BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - Two Battle Creek police officers were disciplined after a drunk-driving crash raised questions about a possible cover-up. The investigation file outlines exactly what happened before the crash.
The crash happened around 2:30 a.m. on July 31 at the corner of Custer Drive and W. Michigan Avenue in Battle Creek. The car involved -- a Chevrolet Cobalt -- sustained serious damage to the front right side and less severe damage to the front left side.
911 tapes provided with the investigation file shed light on what happened before the crash:
Dispatcher: Did he hit anything?
Caller: Well yeah, he hit the side of the curb, mailboxes, street signs. He was flying.
== Listen to more 911 call tapes (.wav) ==
The file shows Officer William Gensch was driving the vehicle with Officer Jennifer Appl in the passenger seat. Both were off-duty and traveling home from a bar.
At the time of the crash, the report shows, Gensch's blood alcohol content (BAC) level was .285, which is more than three times the legal limit. Appl's BAC was .369, which is more than four times the legal limit.
The investigation also shows an officer had contact with Gensch and Appl earlier in the night when they were in a car parked halfway in the street. At the time a different man was in the drivers seat.
The officer said he told the man to move the car and continued his patrol. When he returned the car hadn't been moved, and everyone was outside the vehicle. The patrol officer said he could see Appl appeared drunk, but only noticed Gensch from a distance, as Gensch got into the drivers seat and drove away.
The man he had first observed in the driver's seat told the patrol officer he was worried Gensch had had too much to drink. The patrol officer began a search for Gensch and Appl, and a few minutes later received a phone call from Appl asking the officer to respond to the crash scene.
One 911 caller expressed concern about Gensch's driving before the crash.
"I'm just thinking if someone gets in his way, because he just pushed me and two other cars off the road," the caller told a dispatcher.
Stacy Spindlow told 24 Hour News 8 the crash occurred near her home. A car nearly crashed into her car, which was parked in her driveway, Spindlow said. She then discovered one of the wheels was bent under the car, as if it had struck a curb. Spindlow said the car left a trail of leaking fluid.
The neighbor said two Battle Creek police cars and an unmarked police car showed up. When she asked officers what was going on, they told her it involved teenagers.
After the crash, the file shows, a lieutenant drove them to their apartment in Kalamazoo and told them "not to leave."
But a sergeant interviewed Gensch and said he was using vulgarity, was drunk and not cooperating -- and that if it had been anyone else there would have been an arrest.
Gensch, and the lieutenant who responded, Todd Madsen, were disciplined after the incident.
In a statement released Wednesday, the police department said Gensch, "a 15-year veteran, will receive a 20-day suspension without pay, in conjunction with other conditions."
Madsen, "a 20-year veteran, will be demoted to the rank of sergeant with no opportunity for future promotion."
Appl is not facing any disciplinary action.
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