Internal investigation recommends Sanford officer's firing over hit-and-run



SANFORD, Fla. - An internal investigation has recommended another Sanford cop be fired, this time for an alleged hit-and-run crash.

Video obtained by Channel 9 in December shows Sanford police officer Steven Santiago taking a sobriety test after troopers said he left the scene of an accident.

Santiago is a drunken-driving investigator with his department, but he found himself on the other side of the sobriety test and officers said they arrested him after he hit another car and then sped off.

According to dispatch transmissions, Sanford police officers were following Santiago for at least 20 minutes as he drove on the wrong side of the road and struck multiple curbs.

In radio transmissions obtained by WFTV, an officer can be heard saying, "He's wrong-way on Airport right now. Now he's over the curb."

Santiago eventually pulled over.

When Sanford police called the Florida Highway Patrol to take over the investigation, troopers appeared to suspect he had been drinking.

"How much have you had to drink tonight?" Trooper Victor Fuente is heard asking Santiago.

Troopers said Santiago admitted he had a couple drinks before the crash.

They also interviewed Edgar Gonzalez, the man whose car Santiago hit.

"He just clipped me. Boom," said Gonzalez. "He floored it and just flew right off."

Troopers could have arrested Santiago for the hit-and-run, but they choose to give him a criminal citation, and let Sanford officers drive him home.

They said it is something often done with minor crashes with no serious injuries.

"Of course it raises a lot of eyebrows as to whether he was given special treatment. Was he?" WFTV reporter Kenneth Craig asked Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol.

"Absolutely not," said Montes. "We've arrested other officers for DUI. We've arrested other officers and charged them in crashes. We've arrested our own."

Santiago was suspended from his job with pay pending the outcome of the internal investigation.