The off-duty NYPD detective who fatally struck an elderly pedestrian early Friday morning in the Bronx had a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent almost six hours after the accident. Despite delaying the test for hours by refusing to cooperate without a warrant, 22-year NYPD veteran Kevin Spellman, 42, was still very intoxicated. (The legal limit is 0.08 percent.) Spellman's alcohol level was certainly much higher at the time of the crash, but because people metabolize alcohol at different rates, it's anyone's guess how wasted he was at 6:30 a.m.
As the test results became public yesterday, police commissioner Ray Kelly held a press conference to announce that he had appointed a committee to look into expediting the process of getting warrants for blood from drivers who refuse breath tests. Spellman is the second officer in five weeks to refuse a breath test after a fatal accident; in September Officer Andrew Kelly was arrested after running down Vionique Valnord in Brooklyn. After seven hours, a court-ordered blood test showed no alcohol in his system.
Valnord's family accused the NYPD of covering up Kelly's alleged DWI, but yesterday Commissioner Kelly defended the way both cases were handled, insisting that the average time it takes to get such warrants is about seven hours. (In New York, each county maintains a list of judges who are on call to issue warrants between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m.) An interesting detail about the warrant process for Detective Spellman is revealed by the Times: Before the judge would issue the warrant, he demanded to "speak directly with the doctor who treated the woman who was killed in the crash."
Spellman was suspended and released on $100,000 bond after pleading not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Yesterday the family of the victim, 67-year-old Bronx grandmother Drane Nikac, held a wake before sending her remains back to her native Albania. Her son-in-law, Noni Juncaj, told the Daily News, "It's sad how she died. Those people should protect us. We look at them not to kill us."