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April 13, 2006
Albany -- An Albany Police Officer reports that two district attorney's employees responded to a call after being out drinking. The officer's report states that one of them, prosecutor Chris Cohilas, could not even comprehend what was going on.
The two responded to the scene when a 10-year-old boy hanged himself last month. The police complaint about their drinking was filed several days later.
The D.A. defends his employees and says the complaint is linked to his ongoing feud with the Director of Open Arms.
The statement from Albany Police Investigator Victor Singleton says Assistant D.A. Chris Cohilas and D.A. Investigator Greg Blackmon had been drinking when they arrived to investigate the death of a child March 9th.
The report reads: "I could smell alcohol in the air. Chris was drinking coffee but it was apparent that he and Greg had been out and been drinking."
The report further states: "Both Chris and Greg were loud during the interview of witnesses. Chris was not comprehending what was going on and what I was saying."
Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges admits Cohilas had a "few drinks", but he isn't sure how many. "It's true. He did. However after that, he went home, he showered, he ate dinner, he drank coffee, and he reported to the crime scene."
Hodges says he is not sure how much time passed between Cohilas last drink and his arrival on the death scene. Hodges says Blackmon had not been drinking.
Open Arms Executive Director Beth McKenzie said child abuse workers were were upset and concerned. "It's a fatality, a ten year old little boy. And rightly so. We think a ten year old needs a proper and thorough investigation."
District Attorney Ken Hodges said he has found "No credible evidence that Cohilas was impaired. Reports from my department and the Dougherty County Police Department was that Mr. Cohilas functioned properly, and responded properly in every regard."
Hodges says this is just another strike in his ongoing fight with Beth McKenzie. "He has not lost a single felony case. His reputation is unblemished but for this unsubstantiated allegation by Ms. McKenzie, and quite frankly it's appalling."
McKenzie says her motivation was concern that the child's death was not being handled appropriately by the D.A.'s office. McKenzie said "I don't think you show up to the witnesses of a death drinking. I don't think that's appropriate."
McKenzie says the D.A.'s office needs to have back up personnel on call in case someone is not in condition to respond. The D.A. says he has no plans to discipline Blackmon or Cohilas, who he calls a fine public servant.
Beth McKenzie says she tried to bring up the allegations against Cohilas at a Protocol Committee meeting March 17th, but Judge Loring Gray would not permit her to.
How does one get sober quickly?
The D.A. says his Assistant ate, showered, and drank coffee before he responded to the call.
But none of those things will help you recover from the effects of alcohol. Coffee has no effect on blood alcohol content. The caffeine may cause a short-term rise in alertness. Showering has no effect on blood alcohol content, either. And food rarely helps because the alcohol is already in the blood.
Time is the only thing that can sober someone up. As a general rule, it takes as many hours to sober up as the number of drinks consumed.
The liver needs the time to metabolize the alcohol. Health experts say there is no way to sober up quickly.
D-A Hodges acknowledged that coffee and showering have no effect on blood alcohol content.
He says he brought those matters up to point out that a period of time had passed from when the assistant D-A took his last drink until he reported to work.