Retired IMPD officer talks fear of drunk drivers


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Just a week ago, an Indianapolis police officer was hit by a drunk driver. This is the third accident involving an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer and an alleged drunk driver since December 2018.

Retired police officer Santos Cortez explains the fear for all officers.

Cortez was appointed to the police department in 2007. He served the southwest district. Just five years ago, his life changed by a mistake that we see happen way too often. 

“I had to do everything in bed,” he said. “Eat, sleep and use the bathroom. I honestly feel God put me in this position so I can do things to speak on this.” 

The now-retired police officer says it’s been quite a change since his accident in 2012. 

“The illnesses and the sores and things like that after the initial accident were the worst part,” Cortez said. 

On a warm June night, Cortez was responding to a call when a drunk driver rammed his cruiser. Cortez was immediately ejected from his vehicle and is now paralyzed from the waist down. 

“I mean there are drunks out there from the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they go to bed,” he said. “There are so many outlets of ways to not drink and drive that there is really no excuse.”

Another IMPD officer was hit on March 24. He was driving south on Lafayette Road when a vehicle in the north lane of Lafayette Road turned left in front of the officer. The officer was unable to avoid the car. He hit it on the passenger side, causing both vehicles to spin. 

The officer’s car struck a utility pole. He lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors performed surgery for internal injuries. 

“Now when you go to a restaurant, nothing is 12 ounces,” Cortez said. “A person would just say they had one beer, but that one beer is equivalent to three.” 

Life has changed for Cortez, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. 

“Before I retired I got a law passed for injured officers,” he said. “I think I did more outside the uniform than I did with the uniform on.”

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