Just before midnight, the off-duty cop, Bernardo Zavalza, 39, a seven-year veteran of IMPD assigned to the Northwest District, who was still in uniform and driving his marked police vehicle, responded to an anonymous 911 call in his area. On his way, he struck and killed a pedestrian.
Zavalza then radioed central dispatch and alerted them of the incident. When a police supervisor arrived, he noted that the cop smelled of alcohol.
“We then called additional investigators to the scene to include our (Special Investigations Unit), DUI unit, FACT team (officers that handle blood draws and transport the evidence for crime lab analysis) and our fatal accident investigators,” Lieutenant Richard Riddle told the Indianapolis Star.
Police conducted a field sobriety test at the scene, and then took Zavalza to a hospital for blood tests approximately a half an hour after the accident. The results of the testing have not yet been released.
Riddle has stated that test results to determine drug use generally take 12 to 14 hours, and that the authorities are still awaiting toxicology results.
“By law, we have three hours from when the crash happened to conduct a DUI investigation,” Riddle said. “For him to be here at the scene for investigators to make observations and do their investigation, that is not outside of the realm that a normal individual would go through.”
The name of the 53-year-old victim has not yet been released, but will be once the family has been notified.
The department has yet to comment on why an off-duty officer was responding to a dispatch call, but expressed “sincere condolences to the family” in a statement.
Zavalza has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation. The department cited their “strict” alcohol policy when announcing his suspension. He had not been arrested yet as of Friday afternoon.