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Louisiana police officer caught falsifying drunk driving report

You have to drive east of Lake Charles on I-10 for a few hours to get to St Tammany Parish. Last year, a sheriff's deputy known there for making drunk driving arrests pulled over a Slidell man and began conducting a field sobriety test. After the test, the deputy arrested the man on a drunk driving charge.

But things are not always what they seem to be. Deputy Bryan “Ricky” Steinert later admitted that he fabricated his arrest report. He also resigned his police position, putting dozens of cases in which he had been the arresting officer at risk.

In January of 2016, the decorated deputy pulled over32-year-old Slidell resident and National Guard member Ryan Heyd. One of Heyd's friends took video of the encounter on his phone.

The video showed the suspect performing the sobriety test as a sober person might: no stumbles, no attempts to regain balance or lean on a car for support.

A former St Tammany Parish prosecutor watched the video and said that he “saw no clues that would indicate that he was impaired.”

Last May, the district attorney dropped the charges against the suspect. “It was clear to our prosecutors that what was written in his report and what happened in this video contradicted one another,” he said.

In falsifying his arrest report, the deputy had copied and pasted text from a previous arrest report. The two incidents were clearly not so similar that the deputy's act was appropriate. In fact, a Loyola Law professor said it might have been illegal.

“If a police officer is knowingly and purposefully filing false police reports, that certainly is a crime under Louisiana law. And that is police misconduct of the highest order,” the professor said.

Yet the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff declined to have his former deputy charged.

State Attorney General Jeff Landry has now been asked to review the matter to see if criminal charges should be filed against Steinert.

The case makes it clear that not everything a police officer says is to be taken at face value. An attorney experienced in criminal defense knows how to examine the charges and evidence and fight to protect your rights and freedom.

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