By Troy Torres
Chief of Police Stephen Ignacio has ordered the reopening of the investigation into the destruction of Jerry's Kitchen in Tamuning by a female driver of a red Jeep.
"I have instructed Highway Patrol to investigate," Mr. Ignacio said. "They're over there right now canvassing the area for video surveillance and conducting their investigation. I want to look at their findings. Are there any witnesses? We are going to dot our 'I's and cross our 'T's."
Ignacio admitted the Guam Police officer who responded to the scene and authored the crash report did not review any video surveillance and did not administer a field sobriety test on the supposed driver of the Jeep. The responding officer was Chris Champion. Ignacio said Champion would have interviewed each of the Jeep's occupants and assess the damage done on the vehicle in order to determine whether the woman who said she was the driver actually was the driver. Ignacio yesterday admitted a Guam Police officer was a passenger in the crash. She is Joneen Terlaje, granddaughter of police oversight chairman Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje. Asked if the lack of video evidence at the time of the crash essentially means the responding officer will never know whether the actual driver switched places with the other woman, Ignacio admitted so.
"Officers are trained to recognize the signs of someone who is under the influence, and based on that training, they're able to decide whether to administer a field sobriety test," Mr. Ignacio said. Asked whether he would have administered the test had he been the responding officer, he responded, "That's why I've asked for this investigation."
The police chief said he also wants to show the public he is serious about putting an end to police corruption and allay community concerns.
"I'm gonna call the AG's Office for an independent review," Mr. Ignacio said.
Despite the public outcry, though, the chief said he currently does not see a police corruption angle to this incident. "There's nothing that I read that makes me see there are any influences in this case," Mr. Ignacio said, when asked what he would say to people critical of the connection of the police officer involved in the crash to the GPD, and to the senatorial oversight chairman.
"I want to make sure that police corruption does not have any place in the Guam Police Department," Mr. Ignacio said.