“I do know there are some saying he obtained particular or preferential therapy of some sort,” Villanueva stated. “That’s completely false.”
That included the suggestion that Woods’s blood ought to have been examined for medicine or alcohol, after the golfer drove over a median and crossed a lane of site visitors at practically twice the pace restrict earlier than slamming his car right into a tree. There was “no proof of any impairment,” a sheriff’s captain stated on the information convention. “No open containers within the car and no narcotics or any proof of remedy within the car or on his individual.”
However after the information convention, the sheriff’s division posted on its web site, with Woods’s permission, its studies in regards to the accident. In these 22 pages was a element the sheriff’s workplace hadn’t talked about: that an empty, unlabeled capsule bottle had been present in Woods’s backpack on the accident scene. The report additionally for the primary time described Woods showing disoriented and combative after the crash.
California site visitors attorneys consulted by The Washington Publish differed on whether or not the existence of “an empty plastic pharmaceutical container,” because the report described it, ought to have prompted deputies totest Woods’s blood to find out whether or not he was legally below the affect. However the inconsistencies between the division’s information convention and its personal studies fueled criticism that Woods’s celeb had affected the best way his case was dealt with.
Villanueva emphasised that Woods’s crash, by which the golfer suffered extreme accidents together with a fractured proper leg, was “purely an accident.” Even earlier than the investigation concluded, he stated there was no proof suggesting a cost comparable to reckless driving was warranted. Although knowledge from the automobile’s “black field” confirmed that Woods was touring as much as 87 mph in a forty five mph zone on the time of the accident, he was not cited for dashing.
The sheriff’s workplace targeted on the intersection the place the crash occurred, mentioning different accidents that had occurred there. The Los Angeles District Legal professional’s Workplace stated Friday it had not obtained from the sheriff any complaints for attainable prison prices towards Woods.
The sheriff’s workplace declined to make Villanueva out there for an interview or to reply particular questions for this text. “If you happen to select to invest and provide your concept (though there is no such thing as a proof to help your declare), then that’s your prerogative,” a consultant stated in an electronic mail with out giving their title. “No contradiction exists in what was said verbally and what’s documented within the report.”
On Wednesday, after the sheriff’s workplace introduced it had closed its investigation, Woods tweeted his gratitude to the division, together with thanking by title a deputy and two paramedics “for serving to me so expertly on the scene and getting me safely to the hospital.” Woods, whose agent didn’t reply to a request for remark, stated within the tweet that he “will proceed to deal with my restoration and household.”
Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Regulation Faculty who has studied particular therapy given to celebrities by police, described dealing with such instances as a job hazard widespread to regulation enforcement officers in Los Angeles. “In L.A., it’s important to know each how you can do your job and how you can do your job when there’s a star concerned,” Levenson stated. “You’re put below microscopic scrutiny by the nation.”
Villanueva struggled with that reality of L.A. policing final yr, after retired basketball celebrity Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Villanueva warred with gossip web site TMZ for breaking the information earlier than his division reached subsequent of kin. Then he was sued by Vanessa Bryant, the basketball star’s widow, who claimed his deputies improperly shared photographs of the helicopter accident scene, together with utilizing them to impress a girl at a bar.
Levenson saidthat, in information conferences, Villanueva appeared to offer extra leeway to Woods than that granted to a traditional topic of an investigation. “It did strike me as, ‘I’m deferential to Tiger, I’m going to offer him each advantage of the doubt,” Levenson stated. “Most individuals surprise if they might get the identical advantage of the doubt.”
As a result of the Los Angeles sheriff is an elected place, Levenson stated, Villanueva is especially delicate to public opinion regarding his dealing with of a well-known and largely well-liked determine like Woods. “Regulation enforcement, to the extent they’re elected, are like different politicians,” Levenson stated, including that particular therapy is nearly inevitable in a case with a topic as well-known and highly effective as Woods.
“We’re a city of celebrities,” Levenson stated. “A few of them could be athletes, a few of them could be Hollywood. You may return a long time and discover instances the place celebrities had been handled in another way by the police. That is nothing new.”
The studies launched Wednesday offered much more particulars regarding Woods’s accident than the accounts beforehand given by the sheriff and his deputies. Deputy Carlos Gonzalez advised reporters that after the accident Woods was “calm and lucid.” However in his personal report, Deputy Kyle Sullivan, who interviewed Woods in a hospital trauma bay, stated the golfer didn’t bear in mind being concerned in a site visitors accident and “thought he was at the moment within the state of Florida.” A Los Angeles Hearth Division captain on the scene additionally described Woods as “considerably combative,” however stated his demeanor was constant along with his traumatic harm.
In one other report, Gonzalez stated he discovered the capsule bottle within the entrance pocket of a backpack “resting within the brush” subsequent to Woods’s crashed automobile. “The container had no label and there was no indication as to what, if something, had been inside,” the report learn.
The Washington Publish consulted with three attorneys who specialise in site visitors instances and reviewed the complete studies. Hart Levin, a Los Angeles lawyer who largely handles DUI instances, stated the investigation of Woods’s accident was “extremely irregular” within the lack of effort made to check his blood.
Levin stated that in his expertise, a capsule bottle on the scene is taken into account a “lifeless giveaway” to police: “Even when there was nothing to it, it’s possible trigger.”
Levin stated that the opposite circumstances of the accident would additionally usually make an investigating officer suspicious. “It’s an egregious accident that doesn’t make an entire lot of sense,” Levin stated. “He’s going double the pace restrict and he flies off the highway in the midst of the day. The police view goes to be both he’s doing it on goal, which doesn’t appear to be the case right here, or he’s most likely on one thing.”
The lawyer stated it appeared just like the deputies did him a favor: “That is the Tiger impact.”
Different California site visitors legal professionals disagreed. David Wayne Brown, a Monterey County legal professional who wrote a guide on combating site visitors tickets within the state, stated that as a result of the capsule bottle was empty and unlabeled, it had little evidentiary worth. “For my part, that’s actually not sufficient to get a search warrant,” Brown stated.
“He might have gotten particular therapy on not being cited for dashing,” Brown stated, however added that police departments have various casual insurance policies on whether or not they ticket drivers who’ve been in critical single-car accidents.
L.A.-based DUI legal professional Myles Berman additionally stated the capsule bottle shouldn’t have prompted deputies to check Woods’s blood. He added that the sheriff’s workplace would have had an issue upholding a dashing ticket primarily based solely on the black field knowledge as a result of there was “no clear visible proof” of Woods breaking the regulation.
This isn’t Woods’s first brush with site visitors regulation. In 2017, a police officer discovered Woods asleep behind the wheel of his automobile on a highway in his Florida neighborhood. “Woods said that he didn’t know the place he was,” in keeping with a police report, and a urine check confirmed he had 5 drugs together with Vicodin and Ambien in his system. He entered a diversion program and averted a DUI conviction.
Within the information convention, Villanueva shot down the concept that Woods’s DUI historical past might have spurred his division to hunt a search warrant. “Historical past doesn’t get you the weather you must set up possible trigger,” Villanueva stated, “so I’ll depart it at that.”
Following the accident, the sheriff’s workplace launched a listing of 13 different accidents, inflicting 4 accidents, that had occurred on the intersection the place Woods crashed since 2020. Solely two of them had been single-car accidents. Whereas it appeared from the information that two of the drivers had been cited for violations, the sheriff’s workplace declined to supply any extra information or data in regards to the instances.