Officer accused of trying to hide mayor's son's DUI

PINCKNEYVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Pinckneyville Police officer is suspended for apparently trying to hide a DUI crash involving the mayor's son on Thanksgiving morning.

A crash report from November 24, 2011 says Nolan Kellerman ran off the road after swerving to miss some deer, but the dash camera video from Officer Jaime Benbrook's squad car obtained originally by the Pinckneyville Press Newspaper tells a much different story.

When Kellerman and Benbrook get into the squad car together, the dash camera records them as they allegedly plan to hide the facts of this crash:

"Please don't write me up for anything please," said Kellerman.

"This goes no further than this f**ing car," said Officer Benbrook.

"Alright," said Kellerman "Thank god."

"I'd lose my f***ing job," said Benbrook.

"You know my dad's the mayor?" said Kellerman.

Then, Kellerman goes on to explain his side of the story:

"One-hundred percent, I fell asleep," said Kellerman. "Yes, I have alcohol in my system, but I did fell, I did fall asleep."

The official traffic crash report does not mention Kellerman falling asleep. Instead, Officer Benbrook wrote that deer caused Kellerman to swerve. But even that morning, the dash cam video makes clear officer Benbrook knew the likely cause of the crash.

"He's shaken up, of course - 55," Benbrook can be heard saying in the dash cam video.

Ten-55 is police code for drunk driving. By saying that, Officer Benbrook apparently had a pretty good idea Kellerman was intoxicated - but did not conduct standard field sobriety tests. Instead, he gave Kellerman an automatic pass, and a lecture.

"Let this be a learning lesson," said Benbrook. "Don't f**ing drink and drive dude, period."

"I know that, but..." Kellerman interjects.

"If a trooper or a sheriff's deputy would have handled this - guess what?" said Benbrook.

"I know," said Kellerman. "I owe you one."

Kellerman - the mayor's son, Pinckneyville School Board President Nathan Kellerman's brother, and a Pinckneyville assistant football coach got by without a DUI.

Officer Benbrook, a 10-year veteran of the Pinckneyville Police Department, has since been reprimanded. He will serve a one-day suspension without pay and six months probation.

We knocked on Nolan Kellerman's front door to get his side of the story Wednesday, but he was not home.

Officer Benbrook's wife answered the door when we stopped there. She told us: "He has no comment."

Mayor August Kellerman says he's been instructed not to speak on the issue. He did tell Heartland News over the phone that out of hundreds of crashes in Perry County each year, he doesn't see why this one is getting so much attention. He says he feels the reason might be political because the former Mayor's daughter works for the Pinckneyville Press.

Perry County State's Attorney David Stanton tells Heartland News he is not looking into filing charges against Kellerman or the Officer Benbrook because no criminal investigation was completed.

Illinois State Police, the Perry County Sheriff's Department and Pinckneyville Police all say they do not have open investigations into the crash or the officer's conduct.

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