Hollywood Police traffic unit sergeant charged with DUI after off-duty car accident

(WSVN) - A Hollywood Police sergeant is on desk duty after getting into a car accident. Troopers say he was driving drunk. The Nightteam’s Brian Entin has the story in tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Police audio: “10-4, State Road 9 southbound exit ramp Griffin.”

The dash camera was rolling as a trooper pulled up on what first seemed like a simple fender bender on an I-95 off ramp.

Driver (in 911 call): “This guy smacked into me going like 40.”

That guy in the tank top is Ronald Cannella Jr — a Hollywood Police sergeant.

He was off duty and in his personal car at the time of the July crash.

Troopers say Cannella spoke: “… in a soft slurred tone with the smell of alcohol emitting from his breath and his eyes were bloodshot and watery.”

Deputy (in BSO video): “Mr. Cannella, do you understand that you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, chemical or controlled substance, sir?”

Ronald Cannella Jr: “Yes.”

Cannella was brought in for testing, where he refused a breathalyzer.

Deputy (in BSO video): “Mr. Cannella, at this time, I have three physical performance exercises. Are you willing to try them?”

Ronald Cannella Jr: “No (inaudible).”

Deputy (in BSO video): “They’re for courtroom presentation for the judge and jury to see.”

Ronald Cannella Jr: “No (inaudible).”

But Cannella did answer a question about where he worked.

Deputy (in BSO video): “And your occupation, please. Who do you work for and what city, sir?”

Cannella: “I’m a police sergeant in Hollywood.”

Cannella was promoted to sergeant in 2016.

Ironically, he was a supervisor in the traffic unit and even directed a “DUI/Aggressive driving operation.”

Jack Dale is a law enforcement expert and reviewed the circumstances of the case for us.

Brian Entin: “Is there an issue with him specifically being the sergeant of traffic? Does that come into play?”

Jack Dale, law enforcement expert: “You know, in that case, you would expect a person who is in that position would know and appreciate even more the dangers of driving while drinking.”

This is not the first time Sgt. Ronald Cannella Jr has been in trouble. Earlier this year, he was involved in an internal affairs investigation here at Hollywood Police.

That investigation centered around the Wheels Up, Guns Down ride involving ATVs and dirt bikes.

Cannella violated police pursuit policies.

He was suspended for three days and gave his interview in that case just one day before his DUI arrest.

Jack Dale: “Many people die each year from alcohol-related crashes, so it’s not something that they can just say, ‘Oh, we will give him a free pass on it.'”

Records show Cannella has had mostly positive performance reviews and received awards over his 13-year career at the Hollywood Police Department.

Chief Chris O’Brien told 7News: “… all incidents involving misconduct by personnel of this agency are taken very seriously, and a thorough investigation will be conducted.”

Cannella has pleaded not guilty and remains on paid administrative duty.

Full statement from Hollywood Police Chief Chris O’Brien:

“As soon as the Department was made aware of the off-duty arrest, Sergeant Cannella was placed on administrative duty. Although the arrest and investigation was handled by the Florida Highway Patrol, I also initiated an Internal Affairs investigation into this incident. As such, if any additional action is deemed necessary, it will be taken when the Internal Affairs investigation has concluded. We serve our community with integrity and accountability. As an agency, we hold our duty to the people we serve to the highest standards. Therefore, all incidents involving misconduct by personnel of this agency are taken very seriously and a thorough investigation will be conducted.”

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