By ALEX BRANCH
Fort Worth Star Telegram
FORT WORTH — A Fort Worth police officer’s blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit when his unmarked police vehicle collided with a PT Cruiser, killing a mother of two, police said Thursday.
Officer Jesus Cisneros’ blood-alcohol content measured 0.17 after the Dec. 11 crash that killed Sonia Baker, 27, according to a Fort Worth police statement. The legal limit in Texas is 0.08.
Detectives are now investigating the crash as an intoxication manslaughter case, police said.
"This tragedy has shocked the conscience of this department," Police Chief Jeff Halstead said in a statement. "The Police Department is deeply saddened for the Baker family. We are embarrassed by this tragic incident."
Reached by telephone, Demond Baker, Sonia Baker’s husband, said that dealing with his wife’s death left him too tired to discuss Thursday’s findings. Her funeral was Tuesday, according to an obituary in the Star-Telegram.
The Bakers have two sons, Tayshawn, 4, and Amarion, 5.
"I’m just drained right now," Demond Baker said.
Sonia Baker, a dialysis technician, was driving from her southwest Fort Worth home to a McDonald’s when the crash occurred, her husband has said. Fort Worth police said Cisneros, who was off-duty, was westbound in the 3800 block of Columbus Trail when the Toyota Highlander he was driving collided with Baker’s car about 2:30 a.m.
Baker, who had been southbound on Evening Star Drive, had turned east in front of the officer’s vehicle, police have said.
Cisneros’ blood was drawn at a hospital after the crash. He is now on restricted duty, police said.
Fort Worth traffic investigators requested an independent reconstruction of the wreck from Crash Dynamics, a private company contracted through the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, police said. It will try to determine the speed and momentum of both vehicles, which are factors in determining whether intoxication manslaughter charges are applicable, police said.
Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Internal affairs is investigating Cisneros’ activities before the crash. That inquiry will include what time Cisneros concluded his workday, whom he was with, why he was in an undercover police vehicle and whether he was allowed to use it after hours, police said.
In 2006, Cisneros accepted a 20-day suspension after an internal investigation determined that, while intoxicated and with a passenger in his private car, he fired a single shot through an open sunroof, civil service records show.
Mayor Mike Moncrief released a statement Thursday calling the crash a "terrible tragedy."
"If the facts are as presented, the actions by this officer are completely unacceptable," he said. "They certainly do not represent the good men and women of our Police Department who protect us every day."
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives:
Fort Worth police say officer in fatal wreck was very drunk
A Fort Worth police officer’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when his unmarked police vehicle was involved in a fatal collision that killed a 27-year-old mother of two, police announced Thursday.
Officer Jesus Cisneros had a blood-alcohol content of .17, Fort Worth police said in a statement. The legal limit is .08.
As a result, investigators will "focus the criminal investigation on intoxication manslaughter," the statement said. Detectives are reconstructing the Dec. 11 wreck that killed Sonia Baker (right) to determine the speed of Cisneros’ Toyota Highlander.
Here's what Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead had to say about the case:
“This tragedy has shocked the conscience of this department. The men and women of the Fort Worth Police Department risk their lives to protect our community from impaired drivers; to have an employee suspected of causing the death of a citizen under these circumstances is deplorable. As Chief of Police, I will ensure our investigators work closely with the District Attorney’s office and once the facts of the investigation are obtained, I will deal swiftly with Officer Cisneros. The police department is deeply saddened for the Baker family. We are embarrassed by this tragic incident.”
Mayor Mike Moncrief also commented:
"Fort Worth is deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy," he said. "If the facts are as presented, the actions by this officer are completely unacceptable. They certainly do not represent the good men and women of our Police Department who protect us every day."