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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Harrisburg Officer Brent Stanley found not guilty of 2012 charge

  • Harrisburg Police Officer Joel Brent Stanley at a bench trial Friday was found not guilty of a charge of driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
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  • Harrisburg Police Officer Joel Brent Stanley at a bench trial Friday was found not guilty of a charge of driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
    The charge stemmed from observations made of Stanley's physical and mental state by Harrisburg Police Assistant Chief David Morris when Stanley was reporting for duty within a week of the Leap Day tornado which caused unprecedented damage to Harrisburg on Feb. 29, 2012.
    According to documented court testimony, Stanley, a serving Harrisburg Police Officer, was “On duty or preparing to go on duty at the Clearwave Building in Harrisburg on or about March 7.” Clearwave had made office space available to the Harrisburg Emergency Management Agency after the tornado for the use of meals or other matters necessary for the recovery by the community after this destructive event.
    According to court documents, Morris observed Stanley at the Clearwave Building and formed the opinion that Stanley “was under the influence of something.” Morris apparently then contacted Bill Ghent, the Safety Coordinator for the city and was informed by Ghent that a drug test for Stanley would be set up at Harrisburg Primary Care Center and Morris was instructed by Ghent to take Stanley to the facility and be tested pursuant to the “drug testing policy of the city of Harrisburg.”
    In direct quotes from court documents, Assistant Chief Morris: “Did not, at any time, indicate to Stanley that the testing was in any way related to his operation of a motor vehicle or his squad car or any police vehicle or any possible charge of Driving Under the Influence.” Further, “Morris did not stop or attempt to stop the Defendant Stanley from operating his vehicle from the Clearwave building, nor did he follow or otherwise observe his (Stanley's) operation of the vehicle, but for reference in a supplemental report that he (Morris) purportedly saw the Defendant pull into the parking lot.”
    “There is no indication in Morris' report that he observed Stanley operate his vehicle in an erratic, unusual, or dangerous manner or that Stanley failed to observe any and all traffic laws. No accident was involved.” Additionally: “Morris did not conduct or request the Defendant Stanley to perform any field sobriety tests. Morris did not warn the Defendant as is provided for in 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1 (c). Morris did not issue the Defendant a Uniform Traffic Ticket for any offense as defined and required in Section 11-501 (625 ILCS 5/11-501- or otherwise on or about March 7th 2012, or at any time, nor did he advise the Defendant that any type of arrest or charges were contemplated in any way related to the operation of a vehicle or his (Stanley's) squad car.”
    On June 19, 2012, a criminal complaint was filed by the Saline County States States Attorney Office in this case, and a warrant for Stanley's arrest was issued and executed on Stanley, who was arrested at his home in Harrisburg.
    Page 2 of 2 - Filed on June 20, 2012, in the Saline County Courthouse was a Motion for the Appointment of a Special Prosecutor to handle the case. This motion was filed by the office of the Saline County States Attorney, Mike Henshaw, and was granted. Special Prosecutor John Currie, Assistant States Attorney for Williamson County was assigned to prosecute the case for the States Attorneys Office. On July 17, Stanley's attorney, Samuel G. Beggs, filed a motion for the substitution of judge, for the reason that, “the current Judge, the Honorable Walden E. Morris is prejudiced against him, (Stanley).”
    This motion was granted and Judge William G. Swartz was appointed trial Judge.
    Based on a May 13, 2014, filing Currie agreed with the facts laid out in the defendants case and motions with the addition that Morris noticed that Stanley's pupils “Were fixed and extremely small,” that his speech was impaired and that he “Never stopped talking.” Morris further stated that the defendant's hands shook when he held something.
    The State further agreed that the defendant was allowed to drive to the site of the drug testing and was not advised as to the true purpose of the test, nor was he ever issued any form of traffic citation or read the warning required before a citizen is subjected to a urine or blood test. The State admits that any and all drugs found to be in Stanley’s system were completely in accord, both in nature and amount of dosage, with legally prescribed medications which Stanley had been prescribed by an accredited physician and that Stanley completely cooperated with testing procedures.
    This case apparently hinged on the granting an order to suppress evidence, filed by Stanley's attorney. Once this motion to suppress evidence was granted, which virtually made inadmissible the majority of evidence gathered in the case, a bench trial reached the verdict of not guilty on Friday, June 28.

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