Montebello Police Lieutenant Arrested on Suspicion of Drugged Driving for 2nd Time

A Montebello Police Department lieutenant who was previously arrested on suspicion of drugged driving in 2015, as well as public drunkenness and resisting arrest in 2011, was again arrested this week after getting involved in a traffic accident while under the influence of a drug, authorities said.

Montebello police Lt. Christopher Cervantes, 47, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI following the crash, which took place about 8 a.m. Wednesday at San Bernardino Street and Monte Vista Avenue, Montclair Police Department Sgt. Andy Graziano said.

Montclair officers responded to a non-injury crash between two cars, the sergeant said.

"During our accident investigation, we discovered one of the drivers was driving under the influence of a drug," Graziano said.

It was not yet clear what drug the driver, identified as Cervantes, was accused of being under the influence of.

The lieutenant was released from custody with a citation, Graziano said.

Cervantes was placed on administrative leave following the arrest, Montebello police Sgt. Alfred Martinez said. Montebello police deferred further comment to the Montclair Police Department.

Wednesday's arrest was the lieutenant's third in the past eight years.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies arrested Cervantes in May of 2015 on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs after his vehicle crashed into a tree in Diamond Bar. But the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to file a charge against Cervantes, " due to insufficient evidence,” the agency stated after dropping the case.

A blood sample taken from Cervantes following the Diamond Bar crash "tested positive acetaminophen/butalbital/codeine and morphine, a prescription drug," the D.A.s office noted, adding that he valid prescriptions for the medications.

Nonetheless, the D.A.'s office said at the time that they lacked the expertise to prosecute such a case.

“There is no expert testimony available through our crime lab to offer a quantitative or qualitative opinion of impairment based upon the facts set forth,” according to a document explaining the decision not to file a case. “The (field sobriety tests) and driving are insufficient to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect operated a motor vehicle while impaired. Prosecution is declined based upon insufficient evidence.”

He was a sergeant at the time of the 2015 arrest, and was later promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Cervantes was also arrested by police in San Diego on suspicion of public drunkenness and resisting arrest in July of 2011. That arrest also never resulted in charges, and fellow officers accused the Montebello Police Department of failing to properly discipline Cervantes as part of a discrimination lawsuit they filed the following year.

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