Off duty West Tisbury police officer accused of OUI after rolling car

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

Updated 5:30 pm, January 22

Edgartown Police will summons Russell Ventura of West Tisbury to Edgartown District Court to face charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and marked lanes violations, following a single-car accident Thursday night that sent the off-duty West Tisbury police officer to the hospital and left his vehicle a complete wreck.

In a telephone conversation Friday, West Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Rossi told The Times that Mr. Ventura, an officer for the past four years, had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation by Edgartown police and the disposition of the case.

Edgartown police and emergency rescue personnel responded to a report of a vehicle that had struck a tree on West Tisbury Road near Metcalf Drive just before the State Forest at 7:41 pm, Thursday. When police arrived, they found Mr. Ventura, 39, standing outside his badly damaged car, with blood on his mouth and ear.

“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.

Mr. Ventura told police he was driving outbound from Edgartown when he swerved, and the car “just dug in on the side of the road.” Officer Bishop said that while speaking to Mr. Ventura, he could “detect an odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his mouth.”

Mr. Ventura said he did not need medical attention. Officer Bishop and Sergeant Ken Johnson advised Mr. Ventura that, due to the severity of the accident, it was possible he had sustained internal injuries and needed to be examined by a doctor. Mr. Ventura agreed to be transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

As a result, officer Bishop said, he was was not able to conduct field sobriety tests.

Following an inspection of the accident scene, Officer Bishop said it appeared that Mr. Ventura crossed over the center dividing line into the opposite lane of travel, left the roadway, struck a tree and traveled about 200 more feet along the dirt area between the roadway and the bike path. “It appeared Russell [Ventura] attempted to correct his operation while being off the roadway by turning his wheel,” he said. “This caused the vehicle to roll over at least one time, but possibly more.”

Officer Bishop went to the hospital emergency room accompanied by State Police Trooper David Parent and Sergeant Joseph Pimental, who also responded to the report of a serious crash and have Island-wide jurisdiction. Officer Bishop read Mr. Ventura his Miranda rights and told him that police would seek criminal charges in connection with the accident.

Mr. Ventura refused a police request to submit to a chemical test and give a blood sample, according to the police report. Officer Bishop placed a criminal citation on a side table in the treatment room, explained the charges, and left.

Because Mr. Ventura was under medical care, Edgartown Sergeant Craig Edwards said police decided to summons him.

Mr. Ventura had four court business days from the time he received the citation to request a show cause hearing when a clerk magistrate can decide if there is probable cause to move forward with an arraignment on the charges. The court may also decide to hold a hearing, or proceed directly to a summons and arraignment on the charges. In all likelihood, those familiar with the process said, Mr. Ventura will be called to appear at a show cause hearing.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story reported that Mr. Ventura lives in Oak Bluffs, as noted in the police report. His residence is in West Tisbury.