EAST ST. LOUIS (AP) — A 13-year East St. Louis police officer once found passed out behind the wheel of his unmarked patrol car said Wednesday he has been forced to resign after what he called a family's false claim that he was drunk on the job last month.
Police Chief Michael Floore announced Wednesday he had accepted Rick Perry's resignation in the wake of the March 24 complaint that Perry was profane, smelling of alcohol and slurring his words after responding to a reported burglary and arson fire.
Perry on Wednesday called such claims fabricated and insisted a supervisor twice declined his offer to take a sobriety-proving blood test shortly after the alleged confrontation, only to be sent home on paid leave as the department probed the matter.
"I had no alcohol in my system at all. I had no alcohol in my car or on my person," Perry, 43, told The Associated Press by telephone, at times speaking haltingly when discussing his exodus from the police force. "It's killing me to be forced to resign, but I have no other alternatives. It's killing me, hurting me. I love this community, and I loved my job."
Floore's three-paragraph statement emailed Wednesday to area media outlets did not discuss the department's findings as to the veracity of the complaint against Perry, saying only that "the public good and service to the community is of paramount interest to the East St. Louis Police Department."
A message left by the AP with Floore was not immediately returned.
The city's Board of Fire and Police Commissioners disciplined Perry in 2007 after he allegedly was found drunkenly passed out behind the wheel of his unmarked police car in nearby Belleville. The board has not said what kind of discipline Perry received.
Perry on Wednesday acknowledged that misconduct and said he underwent counseling classes.
"I moved past that and did everything I was supposed to do," he said, believing the 2007 case fueled what he considered a rush to judgment by area media outlets that have reported on last month's accusation. "The media has totally blown this out of proportion."
Perry's integrity also was called into question in January 2009, when St. Clair County prosecutors threw out a murder charge against a man in a 2007 shooting death of a dump truck driver after a judge sided with the defendant and suppressed statements he made to Perry. The judge found Perry to not be credible.
The state's attorney at the time, Robert Haida, said in a letter then to East St. Louis city leaders that he would not file charges in any case in which Perry was the charging officer and that his office would review every pending case involving Perry.