October 24, 2014

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Video of Lorain councilman’s arrest shows him staggering

Lorain Councilman Dennis Flores, right, staggers as he undergoes a field sobriety test Wednesday night in this image taken from a Lorain police cruiser dash camera.

LORAIN — Lorain City Councilman Dennis Flores nearly fell to the ground while taking a field sobriety test just before he was arrested on charges of DUI, failure to control and driving under suspension Wednesday night, according to a video of the incident recorded by a police cruiser dash cam.

Flores

The video shows Lorain police Officer John Kovach outside Flores’ West 18th Street home shortly after 9:30 p.m. and finding Flores, 58, and others trying to get his 1995 Ford Econoline van out of a snow bank in his neighbor’s yard.

After the two men exchanged greetings, Kovach asked Flores, D-2nd Ward, how much he had to drink.

“Cut it out,” Flores replied.

“You’re loaded. You are loaded, dude, and you’re driving,” Kovach replied.

“I’m home. I’m home,” Flores said.

“You’re operating a motor vehicle drunk,” Kovach said.

“No, I am not,” Flores said.

Kovach soon asks Flores to take some field sobriety tests, which Flores declines to do for some time, asking Kovach at one point, “Are you kidding me?”

He also admits to Kovach that he was driving the van when it went into his neighbor’s yard.

After another officer determines that Flores wasn’t armed — he was arrested after failing to promptly inform an officer in 2010 that he was carrying a loaded pistol — Flores relents and agrees to take field sobriety tests.

Kovach wrote in his report that Flores had difficulty following a pen with his eyes and had difficulty with a walk-and-turn test. When Kovach asked Flores to stand on one leg and count, something he had to explain several times, Flores nearly fell to the ground, and the officer had to reach out and grab him, the video shows.

Kovach then puts Flores in the back of his patrol car and takes him to Lorain City Jail, where he handcuffs Flores before taking him inside.

A second video shows Flores and two other officers standing inside the jail, and Flores appears to burp. One of the officers comments that it smelled of vodka, but Flores corrects him, telling police that he had been drinking Christmas ale.

Flores refused to take a breath test to determine how much he had to drink and was booked into the jail.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him during an appearance Thursday in Lorain Municipal Court.

Lorain City Democratic Party Chairman Paul Adams called on Flores to resign from City Council later in the day, although he acknowledged that he hadn’t spoken to Flores personally.

“Elected officials hold the trust and respect of the public, and Councilman Dennis Flores has repeatedly violated these fundamental values,” Adams said in a statement. “His actions (Wednesday) are only the most recent in a continued pattern.”

Flores pleaded no contest to charges that he tried to pick up a prostitute while driving drunk in 2008 and has previously acknowledged that arrest played a role in his defeat at the polls in 2009. He won his seat back in 2011 and is up for re-election again this year.

In a text message sent in response to a request for comment, Flores said he plans to remain on the job.

“I will continue to do the job that I was elected to do, and I’ll deal with my personal situation in the way that I need to,” he wrote.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.