The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 20, 2013

Officer accused of DWI resigns

Charges still pending against 20-year police veteran

By Dan Nienaber

---- — MANKATO — A veteran Mankato police officer stopped Nov. 25 for allegedly driving while intoxicated has resigned, ending an internal investigation.

Possible criminal charges are still pending for Daniel Padilla, a 20-year veteran who started working as a police officer for the Mankato Department of Public Safety in April 1993.

Police reports about the incident, including results from a blood test taken after he was arrested at about 4:20 a.m., have been turned over to St. Peter City Attorney James Brandt.

Brandt said Friday he has the information needed to decide if charges should be filed, but his work has not been completed.

An officer who joined the force last summer, Jase Guetter, stopped Padilla near the intersection of Lincoln and Parsons streets. Once the stop was made, Sgt. Chris Baukol also was sent to assist, according to Department of Public Safety records. Guetter reported he suspected Padilla, who was off duty at the time, was intoxicated due to the way he was driving.

Padilla's blood was drawn to determine blood-alcohol concentration. That sample had to be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing. Padilla was not arrested or taken to jail after the test was completed, which isn't uncommon when someone suspected of drunken driving submits to a test and has a sober person to take them home, said Cmdr. Amy Vokal.

Padilla, who has been on paid administrative leave since he was stopped, submitted his resignation Wednesday, said City Manager Pat Hentges. His last day of administrative leave pay was Friday, but he will continue to be paid for unused vacation and sick time through Jan. 3. There was no separation agreement and no disciplinary action.

The internal investigation was stopped because there wouldn't be any discipline for an officer no longer working for the city, Hentges said.

The salary range for Mankato police officers is between about $51,000 and about $63,000, based on experience. Padilla earned more than $72,000 this year, including his base wage (about $30 per hour), longevity, overtime and holiday pay, according to city records. As of the beginning of December, he also received another $26,500 in fringe benefits including about $10,000 that was contributed to his pension with the Police Employees Retirement Association.

Padilla could not be reached for comment Friday.

Padilla's long career with the department includes two written reprimands and three letters of appreciation, most issued during the 1990s.

The most recent reprimand was issued June 5, 2012, after he crashed a squad car while responding to a report of a fight at Land of Memories Park on May 6, 2012. An accident review committee determined the crash, which didn't involve injuries, was preventable.

"The rate of speed in which you were responding and the distraction with checking your siren button left you incapable of controlling the vehicle while making a turn," the written reprimand said. "While thankfully no personal injures occurred, there was potential of harming yourself and/or others."

The other reprimand was issued Aug. 7, 1997. It said Padilla disobeyed an order by not completing an assault report in a timely manner before being off for four days.

He received letters of appreciation in 1995, 1996 and 1997. They were for working with the victim in an assault that evolved into a standoff, a busy work week that involved two drive-by shootings and mudslides caused by flooding, and helping a lost child from St. James be reunited with his family, respectively.

Padilla also was investigated in 1999 while he was working undercover with the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force. The wife of an informant who was murdered accused him of providing the informant's name to the drug dealer who killed her husband. An investigation led by Deputy Director Matt Westermayer, who was the department's detective commander at the time, determined the informant's identity had not been compromised by Padilla.