Additional charges have been filed against a former Hopkinsville police officer who allegedly drove drunk with children in the vehicle.
Tim Leyenaar was arrested on Thanksgiving and charged with two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, a representative with the county confirmed Monday afternoon.
Leyenaar was arrested on Nov. 17 after a sheriff’s deputy reportedly noticed him driving erratically on Eagle Way near H&R AgriPower. Leyenaar was initially charged with aggravated DUI and careless endangerment. According to the arrest report, his blood-alcohol level was 0.194 percent, more than twice the legal limit for a driver in Kentucky. Leyenaar posted the $773 bond and was released the same day.
Additional charges were needed in the case because of the circumstances, Sheriff Livy Leavell said Monday. DUI arrests are common, Leavell explained, as are circumstances where the intoxicated driver has passengers in the car. However, Leavell said, those passengers are generally adults who chose to ride with the intoxicated driver.
“In this particular situation, these kids don’t have a choice,” Leavell said.
The children, 2 and 3 years old, were in Leyenaar’s care when he allegedly drove drunk, Leavell explained.
The wanton endangerment charge is defined by law as when a person creates “circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” and “wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.”
First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
In the initial report, Deputy Brandon Myers — who arrested Leyenaar on Nov. 17 — did not mention that Leyenaar’s children were with him in the vehicle and did not file any wanton endangerment charges. Department spokesman Chris Miller later told the New Era that he wasn’t sure why that was not in the report, but he thought Myers was checking with the County Attorney’s office to see if additional charges should be filed.
Monday, Major Billy Gloyd said he was unsure why Myers waited to file the charges, but thought Myers “corrected it” by bringing the additional counts.
Leavell said Myers handled the situation correctly and was being diligent by following up with the County Attorney’s office before proceeding with the wanton endangerment charges.
It is typical for additional charges to come after an arrest, Leavell added, saying different circumstances dictate when these charges are necessary. The sheriff had not spoken with Myers about him waiting to file the charges, but assumed Myers needed to meet with the County Attorney’s office in order to further investigate any cause for more charges.
A deputy has some discretion to decide at the time of the alleged offense which charges should be filed, Leavell explained, repeating that he thought Myers “did the right thing.”
Myers applied for the warrant on Nov. 21. It was signed the same day by Judge Arnold Lynch, said a representative for the county. The department tried to serve the warrant at “maybe three or four different locations” Gloyd said, but couldn’t find Leyenaar. This isn’t unusual when serving warrants, Gloyd said. He added that he did not think Leyenaar was trying to avoid the sheriff’s department.
Hopkinsville police arrested Leyenaar on Thanksgiving, Gloyd said, explaining that warrants are funneled into a computer database that tells other law enforcement agencies about them. An arrest report had yet to be filed by Monday evening, and an account of the circumstances leading up to the arrest has not yet been provided.
Leyenaar told the New Era on Nov. 21 that he had resigned his position with HPD “in light of the events.”
HPD Chief Guy Howie said at the time that Leyenaar’s seven years of experience with the HPD will be hard to replace. Previously, Howie said that the behavior Leyenaar is accused of displaying is unacceptable and an “embarrassment” to the police department.
Leyenaar has remained in the Christian County Jail on a $10,000 bond since Thanksgiving. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning in Christian County District Court.
REACH DAVE BOUCHER at 270-887-3262 or email@example.com.