The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Cops, courts and fires

July 9, 2014

Man who paralyzed IMPD officer in drunken driving incident arrested again

PENDLETON — A Pendleton man responsible for a drunken driving incident that paralyzed an Indianapolis police officer in 2012 has been arrested again on suspicion of impaired driving.

Jerrel L. Watkins, 29, was arrested after police found him about to start his car and acting intoxicated in the parking lot of a gas station at 5039 W. Indiana 38.

In 2012, Watkins was arrested after driving drunk through a Kroger parking lot in Indianapolis and damaging several vehicles. He then left the lot, turned onto a dead-end street, made a U-turn, disregarded a stop sign and drove into the path of Indianapolis policeman Santos Cortez, who was responding to the scene. The impact pushed the squad car into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by a pickup truck.

Watkins pleaded guilty to the criminal case in 2013, and was sentenced to three years in prison. According to prison records, he was released in November.

Cortez, who was partially paralyzed by the incident, returned to work at IMPD earlier this year and is undergoing regular physical therapy with the hope of regaining the use of his legs, according to several Indianapolis news agencies.

A civil court case between Watkins and Cortez is pending in Marion County, with a trial date set for Sept. 23.

According to the probable cause affidavit involving Friday’s local incident, a concerned Ricker’s attendant called police after seeing Watkins walk into the store and acting intoxicated.

The employee told police that Watkins had been in the store earlier in the evening, purchased several alcoholic drinks, then returned later acting drunk and behaving aggressively. A 13-year-old boy who wasn’t wearing any socks or shoes was also with Watkins.

The arresting officer reported Watkins had slurred speech, slow reaction time and bloodshot eyes. Watkins reportedly failed two field sobriety tests and passed a third. His blood-alcohol content on a portable breathalyzer test read at .018 percent — well below the legal limit. He also agreed to take a chemical test, for which police are awaiting the results.

According to jail records, Watkins made bail on a $5,000 bond the same morning he was arrested.

On Tuesday, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he had not yet seen the paperwork on Watkins’ case.

Like Jack Molitor on Facebook and follow him @aggiejack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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