July 21, 2011 |

Former cop charged with felony perjury; Kennedy accused of lying about DUI

A former Haines Borough Police Department officer has been charged with perjury for allegedly lying under oath as a witness in a Haines DUI and weapons case that was dismissed.

Kevin K. Kennedy, 29, left the department June 7. He was charged with perjury, a class B felony, three weeks later.

The case is being handled by the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals in Anchorage.

According to the charging documents from the Juneau District Court, Kennedy "made a false sworn statement which he did not believe to be true" when he appeared telephonically at a January administrative hearing.

The suspect discussed at that hearing was a 52-year-old Haines man arrested at 2 Mile Haines Highway in November 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol and misconduct involving a weapon in the third and fourth degrees. All three charges were eventually dismissed.

Haines court documents stated the fourth-degree weapons misconduct charge was due to possessing "a firearm in the interior of a vehicle when his physical and mental condition was impaired as a result of consuming intoxicating liquor." The firearm was a sawed-off shotgun under 26 inches in overall length, which led to the third-degree weapons misconduct charge, a class C felony.

The Haines documents also state during the field sobriety tests for the man, "there was not audio recording due to battery failure and no video recording due to a new system that (was) in the process of being installed."

A breath test found the man’s blood alcohol level was .263.

According to the charging documents regarding Kennedy’s alleged perjury, "Officer Kennedy conducted the breath test which obligated him under Alaska Statute … to clearly and expressly inform the driver of his right to obtain an independent chemical test in addition to the one conducted by Officer Kennedy. The Haines Police Department provided Officer Kennedy with a form that he was trained to use (for) this notification to drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol."

Kennedy allegedly "forgot to notify the suspect driver of his right to an independent chemical test," the charging documents state, and Kennedy returned to the Haines jail a few hours later to notify the suspect, who requested a blood sample drawn.

At the January hearing where Kennedy allegedly committed perjury, Kennedy testified the driver initially had declined the independent chemical test, and said the man then reconsidered and requested the test. The charging documents also stated, "Officer Kennedy explained that the delay in conducting the chemical test was based on the unavailability of the on-call physician."

Kennedy is set for an arraignment on Thursday, July 28, in Juneau, according to the court docket.

Kennedy started as a borough police officer in January 2009. Police chief Gary Lowe said Kennedy left the department "to pursue other opportunities."

When asked if the department knew of the alleged perjury prior to Kennedy’s departure, Lowe said the matter was a "personnel issue."

"I haven’t seen any paperwork or indictment or anything," Lowe said. "I am aware that there were some charges filed, but I haven’t seen anything, so I don’t have anything to comment on it."

He said an officer giving testimony at court hearings is "a fairly frequent thing to do."

"The police role certainly is more than a witness," Lowe said. "It’s reporting, it’s investigating and just providing information to the court, to the hearing officer."