By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The April 6 arrest of Mayor John O’Reilly Jr.’s son Devon O’Reilly for drunken driving is under investigation for alleged special treatment.
Mayor O’Reilly said that Channel 7 WXYZ was the only group to make the special treatment accusation.
“There is no merit or evidence to support the accusation,” he said. “I did whatever I could to not be involved in the investigation.”
He also said he did not return phone calls from the police and fire chiefs he received the night of the incident.
“I take my responsibility very seriously,” John O’Reilly Jr. said. “As father, this is scary. This event could have been different and could have led to more dangerous consequences. It is his opportunity to get straight about alcohol.”
“There was no special treatment given to Devon,” Police Chief Ronald Haddad said. “That is preposterous.”
Police responded to the area of Michigan Avenue and Telegraph Road near Citizens Bank, 23801 Michigan Ave., on a report of a vehicle hitting another car from behind.
The 30-year-old O’Reilly was driving a Ford Fusion east on Michigan Avenue when he hit a Mercedes in the far left lane. He then lost control of the vehicle, lost a tire when hitting a curb and then traveled with three wheels onto the bank’s lawn and struck a second vehicle.
Once police arrived on the scene, they learned that the driver was the mayor’s son. “Your dad’s the mayor, huh?” an officer can be heard saying and being picked up on body microphones.
Devon O’Reilly admitted to being intoxicated when asked by officers if he had anything to drink. Reports said he had glassy, bloodshot red eyes and a blood-alcohol level of .224 percent at the time of the incident, almost three times the state legal limit of 0.08 for drunken driving.
Dash camera video obtained by Channel 7 WXYZ shows the front-end damage to the Ford Fusion, but did not capture O’Reilly being removed from his vehicle or performing field sobriety tests.
Instead, sobriety tests were completed inside the responding ambulance behind closed doors, away from the camera.
Field sobriety tests are usually conducted in front of an officer’s vehicle to be recorded on the dash camera.
Officers did not follow this procedure when arresting Devon O’Reilly, because in Michigan there currently is no requirement stating arrests need to be shown on camera, and it was an accident scene not traffic stop.
“When we respond to the scene of an accident we check for injuries and then talk to witnesses and those involved,” Haddad said. “It’s not typical to stop at a scene of an accident to position vehicles in an advantageous way compared to a normal traffic stop.”
Dash audio is also missing during this time and resumes when Devon O’Reilly is being read his rights and transported to a local hospital.
Police wrote Devon O’Reilly a ticket for impaired driving and took his driver’s license, but didn’t arrest or book him for the incident, even after the hospital visit.
John O’Reilly picked up his son from the hospital after he was treated that same night.
On June 20, 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers placed Devon O’Reilly on 12-month probation in which he is required to submit to random alcohol and drug screenings and complete work with the court’s community work program.
Records from Secretary of State show that restrictions have been placed on Devon O’Reilly’s driver’s license only allowing travel to and from work, treatment meetings, medical conditions, school or probation appointments. From July 14 to Oct. 11 he must abide to these restrictions and carry proof to travel to all of his destinations.
An independent review of the incident is planned by the mayor to analyze the police system for any possible issues with drunken driving incidents.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)