Former La Center officer suspected of drunken driving

She resigned earlier this month as part of deal

By Justin Runquist, Columbian small cities reporter

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Former La Center police officer Tracy Cook appeared in Clark County District Court on Monday morning on suspicion of drunken driving.

According to court documents, Ridgefield Police Lt. Roy Rhine took Cook into custody on the afternoon of Feb. 13 after a traffic collision with a motorcyclist in Ridgefield. Rhine and the other two responding officers said Cook appeared intoxicated and they could smell alcohol on her breath.

Rhine said Cook admitted to doing a shot of Jägermeister a couple hours before the crash, according to court documents. Based on the motorcyclist's recollection of the incident, police also concluded that the crash appeared to be the result of road rage.

The motorcyclist, who had been driving behind Cook heading west on Pioneer Street, told police she was swerving all over the road, so he decided to pass her. After that, Cook began to follow the man, tailgating his bumper, and eventually rear-ending the motorcycle, he told police.

Rhine said Cook acted carefree about the collision and her apparent intoxication when he requested she take some field sobriety tests, according to court documents. After administering one test, Rhine said he noticed six signs of intoxication and Cook refused to participate in any further testing.

Rhine arrested Cook at the scene on suspicion of DUI. She requested to speak with her attorney before answering any questions, and afterward registered a .046 in a breath test administered a couple hours after the collision, another officer reported.

Later, investigators told Rhine that they found bottles for prescription pills and an empty energy drink bottle believed to also contain alcohol in her car. Based on their findings, police said they couldn't be sure if Cook's apparent intoxication came primarily from the pills or the alcohol.

Earlier incident

Cook appeared just briefly in court on Monday for a review hearing. Judge Kelli Osler ended up delaying the hearing until Aug. 26, when Cook will also have a review hearing for a charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer in a separate incident.

The charge stems from an incident on Jan. 2, when police came to Cook's house for a welfare check. According to court documents, Cook initially refused to let anyone in. She later agreed to allow entry to two officers, and a struggle ensued, according to court documents.

Cook reportedly screamed and yelled at the officers to let her go as they restrained her on the floor. She continued fighting to get free as an ambulance took her away for an evaluation, and a paramedic told police that Cook dug her fingernails into his hand and bit him while he tried to restrain her, according to court documents.

Earlier this month, Cook signed a separation agreement with the city of La Center, agreeing to resign from the department in exchange for about $31,000. The payout covers three months' salary, six months of health coverage and her remaining vacation time.

As part of the deal, Cook agreed not to sue the city, its elected officials or the La Center Police Officer's Association.