A Baltimore police officer who was found drunk while on duty faces up to 30 days in jail as part of a plea agreement on misconduct in office and drunk-driving charges, prosecutors said.
Aaron Heilman, 27, was fired in October 2018 after being discovered slumped over in his car during the early afternoon in Pigtown. A Breathalyzer found his blood alcohol level was 0.22, almost three times the legal limit.
With Heilman’s plea, the judge overseeing his case agreed to cap his sentence at a maximum of two concurrent one-year sentences, with all but 30 days suspended, followed by 18 months of supervised probation and “standard DUI penalties,” according to the State’s Attorney’s Office and his defense attorney. Those DUI penalties include using an ignition interlock device on his vehicle and an alcohol restriction on his license.
The judge can’t exceed those parameters, but could give a lesser penalty at his sentencing hearing in August.
Heilman’s attorney, Chaz Ball, said his client entered an Alford plea — in which a defendant maintains his innocence but admits there is enough evidence to prove guilt — and is receiving treatment for addiction.
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“He has lost his career and all other opportunities that came from that profession. Instead of wallowing in that, he’s taken every affirmative step to better himself including intensive in-patient and out-patient treatment for alcohol disorder,” Ball said.
“I have every hope and belief that his future is bright. And we look forward to the opportunity to show that at sentencing.”
In a news release, prosecutors said a surveillance camera captured Heilman driving into the 700 block of Washington Blvd. around 1:10 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2018. Two people working nearby noticed his car was sitting with its roof lights flashing and approached the car to find Heilman slumped over and asleep. They knocked on the car windows and were alarmed when he did not respond.
“I moved around to the driver’s side window, tapped on it, no response. So then I knocked even harder thinking something was wrong and as I knocked on it harder he woke up and was kind of disoriented a little bit,” the person who found him told WJZ-TV last year.
Heilman rolled down his window, and one of the witnesses said he could smell alcohol. After they walked away, Heilman went back to sleep, prosecutors said.
A search of Heilman’s patrol car turned up an empty bottle of wine inside.
Heilman was still in his probationary period, which allows the commissioner to fire an officer without internal charges and disciplinary proceedings.
This article has been updated. An earlier version misstated Heilman’s punishment due to incorrect information from the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office.