There is an unspoken understanding that law enforcement officers look after their own.
However, in the case of Ohio State Trooper Tammy Soto, this kind of loyalty came with a price.
Back in September, a dashboard video caught Soto responding to a call where witnesses say a driver was driving the wrong way on an interstate, heading eastbound in a westbound lane.
According to reports from WKYC, Soto recognized the driver as William Lachner, a 47-year old member of the Lorain Police Department, the same department that employs her husband, Ed Soto.
Lachner is also a confirmed woman beater as we explain below.
After confirming his identity, Soto took the allegedly intoxicated Lachner to her patrol car and appears to begin coaching him through the interaction, according to a video from her dash cam, which can be seen here.
“Don’t say anything,” she says outright. “Alright, I will not,” Lachner answered calmly.
She then asks if the car belongs to him which he confirms. No visible sobriety test was performed and she quickly cut off the audio recording upon entering the car.
While official reports say Lachner refused the breathalyzer and sobriety test, one has to wonder how much influence Soto had in that decision.
As a result, nobody knows how drunk Lachner was that night.
According to the Chronicle-Telegram:
In a visibly altered citation, issued a few days after the arrest, Soto changed the location of where the incident with Lachner happened, thereby shifting it from Oberlin Municipal Court to Vermilion Municipal Court, according to the report. The stop was made in Amherst, but she shifted it to Brownhelm Township, authorities said.
“At least I know he would get a fair shake,” Soto said of Lachner’s case being heard in Vermilion Municipal Court, according to the report.
However, she denied that was motivation for making the change — saying instead that she was just issuing the citation in the jurisdiction where a caller first reported seeing Lachner driving the wrong way, according to the report.
“No, it wasn’t to look out for (Lachner) other than, like I said, that at least I know he would get a fair shake,” Soto told investigators from the prosecutor’s office.
During the early morning of Sept. 13, Soto also turned off her body recording device multiple times, including an almost 30-minute stretch while she drove Lachner from the scene. When questioned, Soto told investigators she often turned off her audio while driving.
That goes against what the patrol teaches its officers.
Throughout her ten year career, Soto developed a reputation for her dogged investigations into incidents of drunk driving. So it seems odd that she would overlook Lachner’s reported “red face” and “rocky motion.”
“I knew it was a 50-50 chance of him being impaired,”she told the Lorain County Prosecutors Office.
But that wasn’t enough to raise the veteran cop’s suspicions that perhaps he might be drunk.
It is this alleged negligence that cost Soto her job. According to a spokesperson from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Soto did not follow protocol and was terminated for allegedly leading an inefficient investigation and for cutting off her recording device without explanation.
While Soto appeals her termination, Lachner remains an employee of the Lorain Police Department, although he pleaded no contest and was found guilty of OVI, operating a vehicle impaired.
Lachner was sentenced to 30-days in jail – which were suspended – and will be required to attend a 72-hour intervention program. According to court records, he was also fined $1,003 to cover fines and court costs.
He was also sentenced to three years of monitored time, meaning he is not allowed to commit any more alcohol-related crimes.
But this was not his first alcohol-related crime.
In 2011 he pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge after being arrested on allegations that he physically attacked his girlfriend. He was fined $150 and ordered to attend counseling.
He was also drunk that night, according to initial reports, and punched his girlfriend in the head several times, forcing her to hide in the closet to call police.
So even if Soto fails to get her job back through her appeal, she will probably be welcomed with open arms into the Lorain Police Department where she would join her husband, who imagines himself a sheepdog as you can see by the screenshot of his Facebook page below.