3 N.Y. Cops Fired In DWI Scandal

First Lady Laura Bush, former President Bill Clinton and Sen, Hillary Rodham Clinton and back row Ed Schlossberg, Caroline Kennedy and former first lady Barbara Bush attend the funeral service for former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, Saturday, July 14, 2007, in Austin, Texas. Johnson the widow of former President Lyndon B. Johnson died Wednesday of natural causes.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool
Three police officers were fired Friday in fallout from a police drinking scandal.

The discharged officers are among 17 cops accused of drinking with patrolman Joseph Gray, who was later charged with running down and killing three members of a Brooklyn family while driving drunk to work.

Gray was freed on $250,000 bail Friday after pleading innocent to criminal charges arising from the incident.

Prosecutors said Gray had engaged in a day-long drinking binge with other cops prior to the accident in Brooklyn. The drinking took place in parking lot of the precinct to which the officers are assigned and at strip clubs.

Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik announced the firings shortly after Gray was arraigned. Kerik also said there would be immediate changes in police procedures.

Two of the fired officers — John Welsh and Craig Hildebrand — were on probation, meaning they had less than two years on the job. The other, Edward Sills, had been on disciplinary probation for a DWI infraction within the last year.

Welsh and Hildebrand had been with Gray at an off-limits "corruption-prone" Brooklyn strip club near the 72nd Precinct stationhouse, Kerik said. Sills allegedly had been drinking with Gray in the parking lot.

Kerik also made sweeping changes in the staffing of midnight tours at all precincts. Any officer on disciplinary probation will be removed from the tour, and placed in a shift with more supervisors, he said.

Kerik said he is looking at how the department investigates alcohol-related incidents involving its officers.

Gray is accused of killing Maria Herrera, her 4-year-old son Andy, and her 16-year-old sister, Dilcia Pena. Herrera's baby boy, Dorian, delivered by Caesarean section after the accident, did not survive, and was buried in her coffin on Thursday.

Kerik also said he would like to see department charges expedited in Gray's case.

The other 14 officers disciplined Wednesday were either transferred, suspended without pay, or were assigned to desk duty with their guns and badges.

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