Paperwork mistake leads to lesser charge for Friendswood police officer

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by Alice Barr / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 11:17 PM

PEARLAND, Texas – A Friendswood police officer was arrested for DWI, but then convicted of a much lesser charge earlier this month.

A viewer tipped KHOU 11 News off to the case, worried that the officer was getting special treatment. But Brazoria County prosecutors say it comes down to a paperwork mistake.

Pearland Police confronted Friendswood Officer Fred Cramer when they saw his motorcycle lying in the road, last October. Cramer admitted he had come from a nearby bar, but refused a field sobriety test. Officers then got a warrant to draw his blood.

The results: a BAC of .264, three times the legal limit.

Despite that, Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne said, “I did not have the evidence to get to a DWI conviction.”

That’s mainly because of one mistake.

“The search warrant never authorized the taking of Mr. Cramer’s blood, in fact it authorized the taking of someone else’s blood,” Yenne said.

The arresting officer accidentally put down his own name instead of Cramer’s.

KHOU 11 News Reporter Alice Barr asked Yenne: “Some people are going to look at this and say, that they were trying to cut him a break.”

“Pearland is very assertive in crime prevention and Pearland has been criticized before for being too aggressive concerning other law enforcement agencies. No one gets treated any differently than anyone else,” said Yenne. “Do I believe this was an inadvertent error? Absolutely.”

So Yenne changed the charge to the easier-to-prove public intoxication and Cramer pleaded guilty to that in early June.

“His arrest needs to be forever public for DWI,” said Yenne. “There needs to be a disposition that he is a convicted public drunk, and then his employer can choose to do what the employer needs to do with that disposition.”

But Friendswood Police Chief Robert Wieners told KHOU 11 News they have to base disciplinary action on the evidence, too. So after their own internal review, Cramer was given a letter of reprimand in January, referred through substance abused counseling and put back on the streets.

KHOU 11 News asked Yenne if she thought the public was well-served by the outcome.

“I do because it’s important that ‘A,’ an officer, or other public servant be arrested when they commit a crime,” said Yenne. “And it’s important that his evidence be assessed, or her evidence, just like anyone else, it was.”

She added, “But sometimes you can’t change the facts.”

Pearland Police told KHOU 11 News simply, mistakes do happen and if they didn’t want a conviction, they never would have arrested Cramer.

Cramer chose not to talk to KHOU 11 News, but his attorney said he’s a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq and has been with Friendswood Police since 2007.

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