DeKALB – A DeKalb police officer accused of hitting a pedestrian while driving drunk has been placed on paid leave, DeKalb police Chief Gene Lowery said Friday.
Darrick L. Wesson, who has received several commendations since joining the DeKalb force in June 1999, was charged Wednesday with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, driving under the influence of alcohol and improper lane use, according to a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office news release. If convicted of the most serious charge, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, he would face probation or up to 3 years in prison and would be ineligible to work as a police officer.
“I take these allegations extremely seriously,” Lowery said. “If these allegations are founded, they are going to have extremely serious consequences. However, it’s premature for me to comment until I know all the facts.”
Wesson posted 10 percent of his $5,000 bond this week and is due in court March 27.
Lowery said after sheriff’s police told him about the crash Wednesday evening, he immediately relieved Wesson, 39, of his police powers and suspended him.
Lowery plans to meet with the city attorney and other staff early next week to ensure the department cooperates quickly and appropriately with the criminal investigation and an internal investigation.
According to the news release, Wesson allegedly was driving his Ford F-150 pickup east on South Malta Road about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when he hit a 26-year-old DeKalb man walking on the road’s south shoulder. The victim was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He told police he saw the truck slow down, then continue east after hitting him, court records show.
The man has been treated and released from the hospital.
A Malta man who saw the crash gave police a partial license plate number of the truck and noted the crash had destroyed the truck’s passenger-side mirror.
Sheriff’s officers met with Wesson, who told them he had been driving on South Malta Road near Devonaire Parkway at the time of the accident, court records show.
Wesson told police that he thought he struck a sign and stopped but didn’t notice anything. The sheriff’s deputy smelled alcohol on Wesson’s breath and Wesson told him he had been drinking alcohol before the crash, court records state.
Wesson, who also is an Army reservist, was not on duty at the time of the crash or immediately before it, Lowery said.
Lowery also expressed concern for the victim.
“Regardless of the allegations, this is a tragic situation, an unfortunate situation for all parties concerned,” Lowery said.