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Video shows mayor’s son got a pass

Video shows mayor’s son got a pass

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PINCKNEYVILLE - Pinckneyville Police Chief John Griffin confirmed Wednesday that disciplinary action was taken against an officer who handled an accident involving Mayor August Kellerman's son.

Officer Jamie Benbrook was suspended for one day, placed on six months probation and will be sent to field sobriety detection class for his handling of the Nov. 24 incident.

In that incident, Nolan Kellerman - a Pinckneyville Community High School social studies teacher - crashed his pickup truck on Illinois 154 just east of Blue Bunting Road.

Although Nolan Kellerman is recorded admitting he had been drinking, the officer did not administer field sobriety tests. Instead, Benbrook called the driver's brother, Nathan Kellerman, president of the Pinckneyville Community High School Board, to come get his brother.

The officer also tells Nolan Kellerman, "If a trooper or a sheriff's deputy would have handled this, guess what?"

The chief said his decision came after a review of the dashboard video in Benbrook's patrol car and an internal investigation.

"We have rules and procedures of what every officer is supposed to do," Griffin said. "You name it and we've got a policy on it. The officer should have done a field sobriety (test.)"

Griffin said Benbrook should have contacted Illinois State Police or, if they weren't able to respond in a reasonable amount of time, Benbrook should have called the chief or assistant chief.

"Quite obviously, the officer didn't follow rules or procedure," Griffin said. "He let everything unfold the way it did. I hate to think it was because it was the mayor's son. (Benbrook's) been here long enough, he knows what our procedure is."

The video, which was first obtained by The Pinckneyville Press, shows Benbrook arriving on the scene and talking with Nolan Kellerman outside the wrecked truck.

At six minutes into the video, the two get into the patrol car and their conversation can be heard.

Nolan Kellerman is heard at one point asking Benbrook to not "write me up or anything, please."

"This goes no father than this (expletive) car, because I'd lose my (expletive) job," Benbrook replied. "The chief of police don't like me."

At another point, Nolan Kellerman told Benbrook that he "100 percent" fell asleep at the wheel.

"Yes, I had alcohol in my system, but I did fall asleep," Kellerman said.

The Southern Illinoisan has put in its own Freedom of Information Act request for the video and documentation surrounding the accident. That request is pending.

One concern in the internal investigation, Griffin said, was to make sure Benbrook did not make his decisions in expectation of a favor. Griffin said if that had been the case, Pinckneyville would have brought in an outside agency to handle the investigation.

"When we did our internal investigation, we didn't leave anything out," Griffin said. "We didn't want to be criticized by not doing our job, even if it was the mayor's son. It's pretty obvious by watching the video where the blame was."

Griffin also said Mayor August Kellerman was not involved in the investigation or discipline.

Mayor Kellerman would not comment on the incident when reached for comment.

Nolan Kellerman could not be reached for comment.

Perry County State's Attorney David Stanton could not be reached for comment.

brent.stewart@thesouthern.com / 618-351-5805

On Twitter: @BrentStewartSI

 

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