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LAPD lieutenant arrested for felony DUI allegedly blew double legal limit after crash

An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department lieutenant was charged Wednesday with felony drunken driving in connection with a crash on the 605 Freeway in Santa Fe Springs that injured at least one person over the weekend. end.

Matthew Ensley was arrested at the scene Sunday evening by the California Highway Patrol on suspicion of felony driving under the influence. His blood alcohol level was 0.20, more than twice the legal limit, according to a report from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

It was not immediately clear whether Ensley was relieved of duty after his arrest.

An LAPD spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ensley remained in custody until Wednesday, when he made his first appearance at the Bellflower Courthouse. Ensley, who wore a black puffer jacket, said little during the brief hearing — other than acknowledging that he understood District Court Judge Warren Kato when the judge was discussing his next court date.

Ensley’s attorney, Bill Seki, asked Kato to reduce his bail by $100,000, noting the officer’s 20 years of public service and his “ties to the community.”

“Mr. Ensley has never been involved in anything like this before,” Seki said.

But Kato refused to set the bail amount lower. Jail records show Ensley was released on bond Wednesday afternoon.

“The court is obviously always concerned with public safety. Obviously, I understand that he is a respected member of the community,” Kato said. But he said he couldn’t make exceptions simply because of Ensley’s status as an officer.

Seki declined to comment further after the hearing, saying he had not yet had a chance to fully review the police report.

A CHP report says Ensley was driving drunk north on 605 in Santa Fe Springs, just south of Spring Avenue, when he struck the rear of another vehicle. The report lists two injuries – one person complaining of a headache and another of a broken arm – but does not specify whether the injured were all occupants of the vehicle Ensley struck, according to the CHP officer Bob Whittenberg.

The incident occurred around 10:25 p.m.

After joining the department in 2004, Ensley was considered a quick learner, earning a reputation as a hard-working cop who carried out anti-gang missions in the Hollenbeck division. In 2009, Ensley and another officer opened fire on a gunman while patrolling the Ramona Gardens housing development, injuring the suspect.

Most recently, he was mentioned in a lawsuit filed by an LAPD detective who claimed he and others were sexually assaulted by members of the LAPD’s amateur football team, the Centurions, as part of a long-standing hazing ritual. Ensley was named as being present during a locker room hazing incident, but was not charged with participating in it. Ensley and his attorney have not responded to the allegations.

Alcohol abuse is a persistent problem within the LAPD, with many officers under investigation each year for drunken driving or other alcohol-related incidents.

Over the years, city officers have been accused of various offenses while drunk, from shooting at people and being involved in accidents to shouting racial slurs at bouncers.

The problem, and the department’s supposedly lenient treatment of such cases, has come under scrutiny in the past by the Police Commission. The civilian oversight body voted to tighten the department’s alcohol policy, lowering the acceptable blood alcohol level for an off-duty armed officer to 0.04 percent in certain situations.

The commission revisited the issue of off-duty drinking in response to a 2021 Times report suggesting the department failed to develop clear policies despite multiple instances in recent years in which armed off-duty officers reportedly caused disturbances, broke laws, and shot people after drinking.

An account on social media site X associated with Ensley appears to have been deleted following his arrest. In December, according to a screenshot of his account, he reposted another user’s post about the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving partnering with police and local leaders to “reduce driver deaths drunk” during the holiday season.

California Daily Newspapers

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