Drunk driver gets 14 years for Chandler officer’s death

Original story.

This was both DUI and hit-and-run; it also involved a minor passenger. Driver sentenced in a plea deal to 14 years prison / 7 years probation for 2nd degree murder + the hit-and-run (other charges? e.g. no license, minor involvement?). The case minute for sentence is here. View all case minutes for CR2014152207.

Yazzie had rejected a similar plea offer back in August; (minute m6979093) it isn’t clear what, if anything, changed. The incident occurred 10/31/2014. The driver “was driving on a suspended license from 2010” presumably due to the previous dui/incidents mentioned.

The sentence, while seemingly typical, I note has once again NO INCARCERATION for the hit-and-run. We have tough hit-and-run laws and nobody (judges and prosecutors) don’t want to apply them.

A Brian Yazzie DOB 2/83 (I don’t have any way to tell if this is the same Brian Yazzie) has a string of court incidents, including an extreme DUI from 2010 CR-2010000602 in Flagstaff muni.

This is one of two unrelated traffic deaths the Chandler police force is reeling from that occurred in the space of a few days only three days apart in unrelated traffic collisions

News item about the sentence:

Drunk driver gets 14 years for Chandler officer’s death
Nicole Praga, The Republic | azcentral.com 7:14 p.m. MST December 4, 2015

A man who struck and killed a Chandler police motorcycle officer while driving impaired in October 2014 has been sentenced to 14 years in prison followed by seven years probation.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville on Friday sentenced 32-year-old Brian Yazzie of Tempe on one count of second-degree murder and one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident in the death of 37-year-old Officer David Payne.

Yazzie was driving on a suspended license from 2010 when he rear-ended Payne at a red light while Payne was working a DUI-enforcement operation on October 31, 2014.

Yazzie had a history of impaired driving, and police said he had a 0.291 blood-alcohol concentration — more than three times the legal limit — when officers intercepted him as he tried to leave the scene.

Fallen East Valley police officers: Chandler police
Fallen East Valley police officers: Chandler police Officer David Payne was killed on Oct. 31, 2014, when his police motorcycle was struck by a drunken driver at the intersection of Chandler Boulevard and Pennington Drive. (Photo: Chandler Police Department)
Officers said they found Yazzie walking east on Chandler Boulevard bleeding from his nose and mouth while carrying an 11-month-old girl with blood on her body.

In front of a packed courthouse, Yazzie took the stand and emotionally apologized to Payne’s family and friends, as well as his own family, for the pain he has caused them.

“I have so many apologies for so many different people for so many different reasons,” Yazzie said. “I will accept your sentencing as only the beginning of making right the wrong I have done to these people.”

Payne’s family was especially emotional as they lost a son, father, brother, fellow officer and friend.

“Our family will never be the same,” David Payne’s mother LuAnn Payne said.

David Payne’s stepson Austin Sherman described David as his best friend.

“He raised me since I was five years old, that’s 15 years of him being my best friend,” Sherman said.
Payne was a seven-year veteran of the Chandler Police Department. He began his career as a detention officer before moving on to patrol and finally serving as a motorcycle officer, said Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler police spokesman.

Payne was a certified drug-recognition expert who served as a trainer for other officers, and he was dedicated to getting impaired drivers out of the roadways, colleagues said.

Since the incident, Chandler police have cut back on using motorcycles during night patrol.

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