Probable cause found to charge off-duty officer with OUI

The 2006 Honda CRV rolled at least once and sustained massive damage, police said. — Photo courtesy of Edgartown Poli

Russell Ventura is scheduled to appear in Edgartown District Court on March 19, to be arraigned on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and marked lanes violations, in connection with a single-car accident on January 16, that sent the off-duty West Tisbury police officer to the hospital and left his vehicle a complete wreck.

Falmouth clerk magistrate Norman Butler found probable cause to issue a criminal complaint following a clerk magistrate’s hearing held February 4 in the Dukes County courthouse in Edgartown. Mr. Butler was called in to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, clerk magistrate Liza Williamson said.

Mr. Ventura, an officer for the past four years, is suspended without pay pending disposition of the case, according to West Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Rossi.

Mr. Ventura was traveling up-Island on West Tisbury Road near Metcalf Drive about 7:40 pm when he left the road and struck a tree. Edgartown police arrived and found Mr. Ventura, 39, standing outside his badly damaged car, with blood on his mouth and ear, according to the police report.

“The vehicle had damage to all four sides, the roof, the undercarriage, and the rear driver’s side wheel was no longer attached,” officer William Bishop wrote in his report. Officer Bishop said that while speaking to Mr. Ventura, he could “detect an odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his mouth.”

Mr. Ventura was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital where he refused a police request to submit to a chemical test and give a blood sample, according to police. Because Mr. Ventura was under medical care, police chose to summons him to face charges.