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Jul 14, 2010 12:00 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Kabot DWI hearing to continue next week

Jul 14, 2010 12:00 PM

The video also shows Officers Lucas and McManus pulling over Ms. Kabot near Library Avenue and asking her for her license and registration. After asking Officer Lucas if she did anything wrong, Ms. Kabot, while still seated in her car, identifies herself, stating: “I’m Linda Kabot.” She then tells the officer that she had just left her sister’s house in East Moriches and, while driving back to her home in Quogue, decided to stop by Westhampton Beach “to see what is going on.”

The tape shows Ms. Kabot taking three field sobriety tests, of which officers later said she failed two. Officer Lucas said he administered the “follow my finger with her eyes” test, in which Ms. Kabot had to be reminded to keep her head still. Ms. Kabot was then asked to take nine steps forward, heel to toe, along an invisible line and, asked to walk back, did so—walking backward. She is then asked to stand on one foot, which she did. Before starting the third test, Officer McManus is seen nudging Officer Lucas out of the way because he was standing in front of the video camera.

After the field sobriety tests, Ms. Kabot is left standing near the back of her car while the two officers are not visible. The tape then jumps more than three minutes ahead and, when it starts recording again, Ms. Kabot is still standing in the same position.

The tape also captures an irate Ms. Kabot repeatedly and clearly telling the officers that she won’t take the Breathalyzer test at the scene. She also stated that she “had, like, two drinks,” did not feel intoxicated, and did not think that she swerved when she was driving. She also asked the officers if she could leave her car parked on Main Street and insisted on having her husband, Lance, pick her up.

At around 12:05 a.m. on September 7, 2009, she was placed in handcuffs and driven back to police headquarters. The police incident report notes that she was arrested at 12:25 a.m.

Another purpose of the ongoing hearing was to establish a chain of custody of the arrest tape. Lt. Gonce said he is the only person who knows the code that can unlock the hard drive of recordings in the dashboard of the patrol cars, and the only one who uploads the videos and makes copies. He testified that he uploaded the video of Ms. Kabot’s arrest sometime between 8 and 10 a.m. on September 7, 2009, on a computer in Chief Dean’s office. He said he also made four copies of the video: three for the district attorney’s office and one for his records.

Lt. Gonce said that sometime after the day of the arrest, possibly the next day, Officers McManus and Lucas asked to review the video, and he gave them his disk. Lt. Gonce said he did not know when they returned it.

Last Thursday, Justice Smith cleared the courtroom of everyone but the attorneys at around 3:15 p.m., after Lt. Gonce testified that he had signed two sworn affidavits giving different accounts of whom he had been in contact with on the day of Ms. Kabot’s arrest. The first document, which was never submitted to the court, stated that he spoke to no one about the incident. The second one stated that he been in contact with two people: Officer McManus and Southampton Town Police Benevolent Association President Pat Aube, both of whom Lt. Gonce said reached out to him.

Lt. Gonce testified Tuesday that on October 28, the day that he signed the affidavits, he worked a 10-hour midnight shift, which ended at 8 a.m. He fell asleep when he got home, and his wife woke him up after two Westhampton Beach detectives, Ed Hamor and Stephen Cunneen, showed up at his door. The detectives gave Lt. Gonce an affidavit and asked him to sign it. Lt. Gonce testified that he was “foggy, half asleep” and signed it without giving it a close read.

“Obviously, I made a mistake,” Lt. Gonce said, adding that he was confused by the wording of the document. He also testified that the called the detectives back 15 or 20 minutes after they had left his house so he could sign a corrected affidavit. That document states that Officer McManus called Lt. Gonce, and Mr. Aube sent him a text message after the arrest and later called him on his cell phone. The document also notes that Mr. Aube was already aware of Ms. Kabot’s arrest. On Tuesday, Lt. Gonce stated that Mr. Aube called to ask about details of the arrest, but Lt. Gonce did not have any.

Mr. Keahon then asked Lt. Gonce if he called Chief Dean on the night that he signed the affidavit, and Lt. Gonce said he did because he wanted to make sure that the correct statement was forwarded to the district attorney’s office.

Also on Tuesday, Mr. Keahon asked Lt. Gonce if he was aware of the attorney’s opinion that Ms. Kabot was set up by police. Lt. Gonce answered that he “wasn’t thinking about your whole conspiracy theory” when he signed the affidavit. “I’m certainly not behind it,” Lt. Gonce continued.

Mr. Baron then tried to debunk Mr. Keahon’s theory that his client was the victim of a set up on the eve of an election. Mr. Baron asked Lt. Gonce if he ever worked for Ms. Kabot, or had any issues with her, to which he replied that he did not.

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