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UHP: Utah police chief arrested in DUI was driving in highway median

UHP: Utah police chief arrested in DUI was driving in highway median

(Geoff Liesik, KSL-TV)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The police chief of a small Utah town seemed disoriented and can be seen failing his sobriety tests when pulled over by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper for investigation of DUI, according to newly released reports and video.

On Thursday, the UHP released dashcam video of the traffic stop made Jan. 29 on Mantua Police Chief Shane Zilles. Zilles was charged Feb. 8 in Wellsville Justice Court with DUI and reckless driving, both class B misdemeanors.

Mantua officials confirmed Friday that Zilles was fired shortly after his arrest.

"Chief Zilles has been terminated. We wish to commend the Utah Highway Patrol for the professional manner in which they handled a difficult situation. It is always unpleasant when called upon to take such action against another police officer. We also hope that Mr. Zilles can work his way through this tough time and find a better path in the future," Mayor Michael Johnson said in a statement.

"It appears that prescription meds have claimed another good person's reputation. We are so thankful that no property was damaged and no people were injured in this unfortunate situation."

Zilles was driving a Mantua police patrol car on state Route 91 near the mouth of Sardine Canyon about 5 p.m. when his vehicle was spotted traveling at least 86 mph in a 65 mph zone, in the median, and without any emergency lights or sirens, according to a report filed by the arresting UHP trooper.

The dashcam video shows Zilles cutting off another vehicle as he is pulled over. By the time he is pulled off to the side of the road, his overhead lights are turned on.

"You OK? You were driving down the middle of the road,” trooper Kent Goodrich asks as he began talking to Zilles.

The trooper, who immediately recognized Zilles, stated in the report that the chief had trouble finding the button to roll down the passenger window and eventually rolled down the back window instead. When the trooper asked Zilles to open the passenger door, his patrol car rolled 6 to 8 feet before stopping and Zilles got the door open, the report states.

Zilles then gave answers to the trooper's questions and made comments that either didn't make sense or were too mumbled to understand. He stated that he was headed to work even though he was driving the opposite direction, and his speech was slurred, according to the report and dashcam video.

"I’ll be honest, you’re very worrying me with your actions right now. Are you on any meds?” Goodrich asked. "Do you know where you’re at?”

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The trooper noted in his report that Zilles "took a long time" answering that question, and when he did answer "it came out more as a question than a confident answer."

The audio of the dashcam is redacted when Zilles appears to be talking about what medications he may have taken. Likewise, that portion of the police report is also redacted.

Goodrich then conducts field sobriety tests on Zilles, which he appears to fail. He is seen in the video having problems keeping his balance — putting his arms out to his side at one point to avoid falling over — as well as following instructions.

"I came to the conclusion that Shane was under the influence of a drug," the trooper wrote in the report.

"Your balance is exceptionally poor,” Goodrich is heard telling Zilles in the video. "Help me understand what other medication you’re on."

After giving Zilles a Breathalyzer test, which was negative for alcohol, Goodrich had Zilles place his hands behind his back to be handcuffed.

"Shane, I hate to do this, it’s an awkward position for me to do, but I don’t think you’re safe to be driving and unfortunately I don’t have much of a choice. I’m going to place you under arrest,” the trooper says in the video.

Zilles was taken to a local hospital for a blood draw. But he was then admitted for an undisclosed medical condition. The chief was not booked into jail.

The next day, while delivering Zilles' citation, Goodrich noted in his report that the chief still seemed confused about a standard driver's license hearing that would be held due to his arrest.

"I found that very odd because this was information that any law enforcement officer would know very well. The look of confusion on Shane's face made it seem as if he had never heard it before."

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