Prosecutor quits under fire

Refused DUI test, audio gaps in police video

A Sangamon County assistant state’s attorney who landed in trouble at a bar last spring has resigned after being pulled over last month on suspicion of drunken driving.

University of Illinois Springfield police ended their investigation without arresting or citing Edward Brandt when he refused to perform field sobriety tests after being stopped for driving 59 mph in a 40 mph zone at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 21, near Toronto Road. He told an officer he was on his way to the Crow’s Mill, a bar, to pick up a friend. The bar had been closed for 30 minutes.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?” Officer Adam Rade asked Brandt. “Nothing,” the prosecutor answered. Rade took Brandt’s license, then returned to his patrol car. When he returned a few minutes later, Brandt had just lit a cigarette. Rade asked him to put it out, then summarized the evidence. “It did kind of smell like alcohol, now you’re lighting a cigarette right about the time I get back after asking you about it,” the officer said. “That’s kind of suspicious to me. How much have you had to drink? Really.”


“None,” Brandt replied. “Nothing at all?” the officer responded. “Your eyes are pretty glazed.” “I just woke up.” A long pause ensued. “All right, here’s the deal: I’m not going to write you any citations today for 60 mph or anything,” Rade told Brandt. “Would you mind stepping out of the car and taking a few field sobriety tests for me?”

Without asking what the tests involved, Brandt refused. “I’ll drive right back home,” he told the officer. “I’m done.”

“So, you’re not going to get out of the car and take these tests for me?”

“I’ll just go home and be done – I’ll go home.”


“Sit tight for me.”

Rade returns to his car and appears to radio his intentions to a dispatcher: “It’s just going to be some standardized field sobriety tests here pretty quick.” Sgt. Justin Emmons arrives a few minutes later, and Rade recites what he knows: “Dude’s flying 60 down 11th Street, reeks of booze. Got his license, came back to driver’s side, he’s got a freshly lit cigarette. Eyes are glossed up. Refused field sobriety.”

With Emmons present, Rade returned to Brandt’s car. “I’m going to give you one more chance: Do you want to do the field sobriety tests for me?” “No,” Brandt answered.

“Then step out of the car.”

The officer directed Brandt to step to the back of his vehicle, then asked him where he was coming from. At that point, the audio, provided by the Sangamon County prosecutor’s office, goes out for 20 seconds while Brandt speaks with police. He turns away from officers to cough just as the sound comes back on. Rade tells him to get back into his car, the officers return to Rade’s car and from that point, there is no audio capturing conversation between Brandt and police nor between Rade and Emmons.


Rade says he turned his microphone off to discuss his observations with the sergeant and forgot to turn it back on when he returned to Brandt from his patrol car. It’s not clear why officers would need to evaluate the case without a record being made of the conversation. Video shows officers spoke with Brandt for nearly four minutes before allowing him to drive away and park in a nearby parking lot, where Andrew Affrunti, an assistant state’s attorney, picked him up minutes later. According to Emmons’ report, the sergeant first called the friend whom Brandt had said wanted a ride from the closed Crow’s Mill, but the friend told the sergeant that he was on his way to the airport and unavailable.

In their reports, Rade and Emmons wrote that they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Brandt. Emmons wrote that a lack of signs suggesting drunkenness from sobriety tests that the prosecutor refused to perform played a role in the decision to let Brandt go.

“Upon viewing Brandt, it was my belief from my experience that he had consumed some amount of an alcoholic beverage, but his impairment was not obvious,” Emmons wrote. “He walked without stumbling or swaying, and he did not have any discernible speech slurs. His eyes appeared slightly bloodshot. … It was decided at this time, without any clues from (standardized field sobriety tests), we lacked the evidence to make a probable cause arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, and we would attempt to find a ride for Brandt.”

Brandt was placed on administrative leave on Dec. 26 and resigned on Dec. 30, the same day that state’s attorney Dan Wright and Charlie Stratton, the office human resources director, gave him a notice of findings that stated the police video “and other information obtained during our investigation” showed he had lied when he’d claimed he had consumed no alcohol before he was stopped by police. The findings also included the fact that Brandt had refused field sobriety tests. Wright and Stratton also asserted that Brandt hadn’t disclosed relevant facts when the state’s attorney and human resources director discussed the incident with him on Dec. 26.

It wasn’t the first time Brandt had gotten in trouble at work.

Last spring, he received an oral warning after an encounter with Southern View police outside the Curve Inn, which had ejected him shortly before 2:40 a.m. on March 29. According to a police report and surveillance footage from the bar, Brandt had been starting fights with customers and was told that he needed to leave. He was escorted out by two bar employees. Southern View police reported that Brandt had earlier been at the Crow’s Mill, where he’d been harassing a woman who told police that he’d tried to go into a bathroom with her. The woman told officers that she’d told Brandt to leave her alone. When she and her friends went to the Curve, she said that Brandt showed up and began harassing her again.

Brandt remained outside the bar, and so police were called. When an officer told him that he needed to leave, he said that he was an assistant state’s attorney and wanted to pursue battery charges against Curve employees who’d taken him outside. The state’s attorney referred the case to the state’s attorneys appellate prosecutor’s office, which excused itself due to a conflict of interest. Brandon Zanotti, Williamson County state’s attorney, took over and decided there was insufficient evidence to file any charges against Brandt.

On Dec. 10, Stratton informed Brandt that women within the state’s attorney’s office and another office unnamed in a memo had complained about his behavior. Stratton and Wright started asking female employees about interactions with Brandt after a co-worker told the state’s attorney that he’d made statements she thought were offensive and disrespectful and were made due to her gender. Some women thought Brandt had been leering and deemed him sufficiently “creepy” toward some interns and co-workers that they warned new employees about him, according to the memo. “(E)veryone we spoke to had very similar experiences,” Stratton wrote in his memo. “Each of them explained you were dismissive, disrespectful, belittling, among other issues. They also felt that you were cruel to caseworkers with whom the state’s attorney’s office works and frequently made very disrespectful comments about their respective agencies.”

According to a Dec. 30 memo to Brandt from Stratton and Wright, an investigation regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women was near completion when UIS police stopped him. Brandt was paid $56,732 per year, according to the county's website.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

Below is video of UIS police stopping Edward Brandt

These videos document Brandt's removal from the Curve Inn shortly before closing time last March 29. The first video shows him having a discussion with unidentified patrons at the Curve Inn — Brandt is at the far right of the screen with his back to the camera. The next two show him being escorted outside.


Video

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