ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A former Albuquerque police officer could soon see his charges enhanced after test results revealed his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit soon after a deadly crash he’s accused of causing.
Rodney Locke was arrested in late September following a late night wreck on Louisiana near Lomas that killed a woman in a wheelchair who was in the road. A witness told police they saw Locke in his blue truck hit her, get out, get back in and drive off.
Using license plate information from witnesses, an officer found Locke behind the wheel of that truck at his nearby home. According to lapel camera video released by APD, Locke admits to having beers at a bar a few hours before and says he knew he hit something, but wasn’t sure what it was. He refused a breath test.
Locke was not charged with vehicular homicide, which carries up to 15 years in prison due to a newly enhanced state law, but with leaving the scene of an accident involving death, which carries up to six years.
DWI advocate Linda Atkinson says not seeing a vehicular homicide charge based on the facts of the case initially or even now raises suspicions.
“Is there some other considerations because he’s former APD?” Atkinson said. “I don’t know but that’s what it raises in my mind.”
APD spokesperson Ofc. Fred Duran and DA’s office spokesperson Phil Sisneros both cited the need to wait for results of a blood test to charge vehicular homicide. That test, completed this week, shows Locke had a BAC of .18.
In a number of recent cases KRQE News 13 reviewed, suspects were charged with vehicular homicide initially, even before blood test results are back. That includes a case this past holiday weekend in which a motorcyclist is accused of driving drunk and killing his passenger as well as a case last month where Michael Penick is accused of driving drunk and leaving the scene of a wreck that left a pedestrian dead.
“I think they can move forward because certainly they do in other cases,” Atkinson said. “It’s a critical piece but it doesn’t have to be the only one to determine the charging.”
Duran says the facts of each case are different and the Locke investigation didn’t show enough at the time of arrest to justify a vehicular homicide charge. He also says APD took extra steps to avoid an appearance of favoritism in this case, bringing in investigators who did not know or work with Locke to handle the investigation.
A call to Locke’s attorney for Locke’s side of what happened was not returned in time for this story.