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Suspected DUI Driver Who Hit And Killed Officer Was On Probation For Prior DUI Conviction

ELK GROVE (CBS13) - The wrong-way driver accused of a DUI in a head-on crash that killed Elk Grove Police Officer Tyler Lenehan has a history of drunk driving offenses.

Jermaine Walton, 31, was arrested after Friday's crash along Hwy. 99 in South Sacramento and was hit with several charges, including DUI and murder.

In 2017, Walton was arrested for DUI and driving with a blood-alcohol level of over 0.08 percent. He was ordered to jail time, work project time, and mandatory classes -- but never completed them.

"The public record shows he didn't' really do those things," said Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel.

So why was Walton legally allowed to drive? One of the 2017 charges was dismissed. The one that stuck was a misdemeanor.

"For all first offender DUIs, you have a complete blackout where you can't drive for 30 days and then another three to six months where you have a restricted license," Reichel said.

Walton was still on probation for the 2017 charge at the time of Friday's crash. That's something Reichel says is likely why Walton was charged with murder and not manslaughter.

"Another DUI that results in death could result in you now facing a murder charge for that second DUI," he said.

The Elk Grove community held a candlelight memorial Friday night remembering Officer Lenehan, who was killed while riding his department motorcycle to work.

"We're heartbroken," said Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright. "We're broken."

Albright added, "There are tough days ahead for this organization."

"Ty," as he was known to many, worked in law enforcement for decades: first at the Citrus Heights Police Department, then for Galt police, and finally for Elk Grove's motorcycle unit.

"We couldn't believe it," said Elk Grove City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen.

Her husband worked side by side with Lenehan as a motorcycle officer.

"You're not protected like you are in a vehicle, and so the chances of you surviving when you're in an accident are very slim," Nguyen said.

Officer Lenehan leaves behind two teenage sons, a wife, and his law enforcement family who are saddened and angered by the loss.

"This was entirely senseless. This was irresponsible," said City Councilmember Kevin Spease.

Investigators say Walton was driving the wrong way on Highway 99 when he hit Lenehan head-on.

"A father going to work in the morning to do his job driving down the road," Spease said.

Funeral arrangements for Officer Lenehan have not yet been announced.

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