Friday, June 5, 2009

Deputy Kills 2 Cyclists After Falling Asleep At The Wheel, Gets Demoted

Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who killed cyclists demoted
By Tracey Kaplan
Mercury News

The Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who killed two cyclists after falling asleep at the wheel of his patrol car last year will be demoted from his job as a law enforcement officer and reassigned to a civilian position at about two-thirds the pay.

As a sheriff's "technician," James "Tommy" Council will not be permitted to carry a gun — or drive a patrol car — and will earn a maximum of about $55,600, instead of his current salary of $82,168. Technicians typically serve summonses, provide unarmed court security and catalog evidence.

Council's demotion by Sheriff Laurie Smith offered a modicum of bittersweet satisfaction to the cyclists' friends and relatives, who were incensed that the deputy won't serve time behind bars under a court-ordered deal.

"Keeping him behind the wheel in the sheriff's department would be a slap in the face to my daughter's memory," said Karen Clarkson, the mother of one of the victims, Olympic hopeful Kristy Gough. "I'm glad for the sake of public safety that he won't be."

Council is set to be sentenced later this month on two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter. He will be required to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet for four months, perform 20 weeks of community service and pay restitution to the victims' families.

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