HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A veteran NYPD officer faced a judge on Tuesday on accusations that he took a drunken wrong-way drive along a highway and crashed into five cars.
As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, Ronald Holmes, 48, of Elmont has put in 20 years as an NYPD officer, but he has found himself on the other side of the law.
New York State Police said while off duty early Saturday morning Holmes drove drunk the wrong way on the Southern State Parkway near Exit 17 in West Hempstead. He was heading east in the westbound lanes when he slammed into five cars, authorities said.
Astonishingly, no one was seriously injured – although published reports said this past weekend that one person was taken to Nassau County Medical Center for minor injuries.
Holmes declined to comment outside court, where he had the support of his fellow officers.
"We have entered a plea of not guilty, and plan on vigorously defending the charges," his attorney said in a statement.
Elmont neighbors said the divorced father and Brooklyn-based officer is as nice as they come.
"He's very quiet. He's very polite," one neighbor said. "I never associate him with drinking."
"He's very nice. He's very good person," added neighbor Luce Ciro. "I don't believe."
Court documents indicated that Holmes admitted to drinking four or five beers at a bar in Queens. He stood charged this week with driving while intoxicated and reckless endangerment – both misdemeanors.
Marge Lee, an advocate for victims of drunken driving, has long lobbied for elevated charges -- even for first offenders.
"There have been people killed in wrong-way crashes," said Lee of the group "Dedicatedd. "This guy should get down on his hands and knees and thank God that he's only been charged with this."
Police do not know where Holmes entered the parkway heading the wrong way, but all the entrance ramps are clearly marked "do not enter."
Holmes refused a breath test, but police said his glassy eyes and slurred speech, as well as a smell of alcohol, were cause for arrest.
The NYPD has suspended Holmes without pay.
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