A Riverside police officer who admitted to drinking beer while off duty, getting into his city-issued car and sending a text message before crashing into a parked semi truck in Temecula, and then leaving the scene without immediately reporting the incident, will not be arrested.
But Chad Milby, who was once a lieutenant, is now a sergeant – one rank lower – assigned to patrol, said Riverside police Lt. Melissa Bartholomew.
Citing privacy regulations, Bartholomew would not say whether Milby’s change in rank was a demotion related to the crash. She declined to discuss any details of Milby’s discipline, including whether he was suspended or required to pay for the $9,500 damage done to the city’s unmarked silver Ford Fusion he was driving.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, which provides police services for Temecula, investigated the crash that happened the night of April 29 on Wolf Store Road east of Mahlon Vail Road.
When a deputy questioned Milby at his home later that night, he did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, the sheriff’s incident report said.
Milby was not cited for violating the state Vehicle Code section requiring the use of a hands-free device to text because an officer must witness an infraction to write a ticket, said Deputy Michael Vasquez, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman.
The driver of the truck did not want to press hit-and-run charges, Vasquez said, so there was no victim. Some crimes, such as domestic violence, can be prosecuted with the state of California as the victim, Vasquez said, but hit and run is not one of them.
Milby, through a Riverside police spokeswoman, declined to comment for this story.
The deputy who questioned Milby, whose name was redacted from the report provided to The Press-Enterprise, said he was dispatched to a report of a hit and run involving a semi at 10:46 p.m. April 29. Two minutes earlier, the deputy wrote, there was a separate report of a silver car “swerving all over the roadway” and that the car hit a curb about a mile away.
The deputy examined the semi and found only a scuff on a tire. He also found pieces of the city’s car.
Milby reported the crash to the Riverside Police Department, the deputy wrote. The deputy did not specify when. Department policy requires crashes to be “promptly” reported to a supervisor and a collision report filed with the agency having jurisdiction where the crash occurred.
The policy also prohibits using take-home cars for personal errands “beyond a reasonable minor detour,” unless approved, and prohibits driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. It also bans, without permission, drinking any alcohol within four hours before driving.
Milby told the deputy he had drank two beers between 6 and 10 p.m. before the crash.
The deputy contacted Milby in the driveway of his home in Temecula and said he noticed “an odor of either cologne or fragrant soap, preventing me from detecting an odor of an alcoholic beverage.” But Milby did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, the deputy wrote.
Milby told the deputy that his airbag deployed when he hit some unknown object, but he did not stop because he did not see any vehicles or injured pedestrians. He did not immediately check for damage to his car. Milby could not explain why he didn’t report the crash to the Sheriff’s Department.
Milby called the deputy the next day to add that he was responding to a text message from his wife at the time of the crash.
The deputy subsequently talked with a second witness who said he saw a silver car with its hazard lights on and the airbag inflated “doing donuts” near the site of Milby’s crash.