Years later, police captain says he’s still ‘extremely embarrassed’ by DWAI crash off duty | Local News


It remains, Corey Flatau said last week, one of the worst nights of his life.

Flatau, then a Tonawanda City Police Lieutenant, was off duty when he ran off the road and crashed into a mailbox on Nash Road in Wheatfield just after midnight on December 27, 2018.

Body camera video obtained by The Buffalo News, and previously unreported, shows Flatau in good spirits as he struggled to keep his balance and answer basic questions from a Niagara County sheriff’s deputy.

Flatau could not say where he was from, or where he was heading, and incorrectly gave his first name as “Steve”.

Tonawanda Police Chief James P. Stauffiger defended officers and supervisors who responded to the incident.

When the deputy said he wanted to test Flatau’s sobriety, he laughed and stumbled slightly.

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Later in their conversation, Flatau erroneously said, “I don’t drive.

The deputy asked, “Who was driving the automobile then?”

Deputy: “Who was with you?”

Flatau: “Buddy, uh, whatever.”

Deputy: “What was his name?”

Flatau rubbed his hands together and said, “Let’s go. Let’s go.”

Flatau fell backwards trying to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. He begged for a second sobriety test and was handcuffed.

“I’ll tell you, I wasn’t myself that night. I wasn’t 100% sane. It’s evident by these tapes of my comments,” Flatau said last week. in his first public comments on his arrest.

He was charged with drunk driving and issued a pair of traffic violations. He pleaded guilty to impaired driving and was ordered to pay a $560 fine and surcharge. He was also placed on probation and had his license suspended, among other consequences.

Flatau said his first call hours after the crash was to disclose his arrest to then-Police Chief Jerome C. Uschold III.

“I was extremely embarrassed,” said Flatau, who considered combat as a Marine serving in Iraq.

He surrendered his badge and service weapon and was placed on administrative leave.

Flatau was eventually suspended for 30 days without pay for violating department policies. One of those charges was based on Flatau not having his police ID on him.

He never identified himself as an officer or asked for special treatment from the deputy.

Flatau said he knew his arrest would be announced by the media given his position in the department.

“I’m held to a higher standard. I mean, I know that,” he said.

He said he took full responsibility for what he did and it motivated him to make changes in his personal life.

But, he said, it is frustrating that the incident is receiving renewed attention years later. Whenever he searches for his name online, Flatau said, stories referencing his arrest — some including his photo ID — appear at the top of search results.

“I will never walk away from it,” he said.

More than a year after his arrest, Flatau was promoted from lieutenant to captain.

Police Chief James P. Stauffiger supported this promotion and more recently assigned him to oversee the Patrol Division. Stauffiger said Flatau had proven his reliability and good judgment.

“I have that level of trust in Captain Flatau,” the police chief said.


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