Driver is released after arrest in deputy recruit crash that sheriff called ‘deliberate act’
Oshkosh deputy Robert O. Schmidt III, left, and his friend, Robert Y. Schuett, leave the courtroom before arraignment in Stevens Point on Monday. Two Oshkosh police officers are being prosecuted for the June crash that killed a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper. (Mark Hoffman/The Republican via AP)
SPRATLING, Wis. — An off-duty deputy sheriff who was driving his personal vehicle struck and killed a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper in June as they drove together on a rural road less than a mile from the end of a training academy, the sheriff’s department said. His vehicle went off a bridge, flipped, and then came to rest on its roof with the door open, according to the criminal complaint in his May trial.
Oshkosh County sheriff Robert Schmitz spoke with The Associated Press on Wednesday, describing the crash, the officer, and his feelings about their deaths.
“It still gives me great concern,” Schmitz said.
The accident is the latest in a series of incidents that have raised questions about how deputies are trained and how they function as officers and, for some, as leaders in their communities.
Schmitz, the deputy sheriff at the center of the crash, is scheduled to be arraigned in Stevens Point on Friday on two counts of careless driving causing death. He is accused of failing to use his brakes after the crash, as required by department rules, and of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Schmitz declined to discuss the investigation or the case with the AP. But he said that when he learned that the two officers involved were wearing department-issued bulletproof vests, he ordered the two officers to remove them from the cars involved in the crash.
The sheriff said he was concerned about the possibility that the officers were not wearing the vests properly, adding that the department doesn’t typically issue the vests. He said it is a safety measure,