By JOHN T. WARD
A Rumson police officer charged with drunk driving after crashing his car into the back of a Red Bank store in September was convicted on a lesser charge Thursday after a blood sample was found to be inadmissible in court.
Sergeant Damien Brennan, 37, of Howell, pleaded guilty in Red Bank municipal court to reckless driving, his attorney confirmed to redbankgreen.
Brennan was slightly injured in the accident, in which his Chevy Camaro plowed into a dumpster behind Fisher Diamonds, at the corner of White and Broad streets, shortly after midnight on September 21. He was transported to Riverview Medical Center, where he was treated and released.
The case ended on the entry of a plea without any testimony or evidence entered, said a court official who asked not to be named.
The plea followed a court filing by defense attorney Peter O’Mara, who argued that a blood sample taken at the hospital was inadmissible under a 2013 United States Supreme Court ruling that found that police must obtain a warrant before taking a blood sample from a defendant. No warrant was obtained in this case, O’Mara said.
Prosecutor James Butler could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Judge William Hintelman sentenced Brennan to a 60-day license suspension and a $456 fine plus court costs, according to court records.
Since his arrest, Brennan has been on administrative leave, with pay, from his Rumson job.
Rumson police Chief Scott Paterson told redbankgreen he had not received official word on the disposition of the case against Brennan, and would conduct his own investigation to determine its impact on Brennan’s job status.
The rear of the jewelry store sustained superficial damage inside and out as a result of the dumpster smashing into it.