Ray Villeda, NBC 5 News
An off-duty Dallas police officer is accused of firing a gun while driving drunk. Authorities say Officer Rafael Mendoza was arrested early yesterday in Mesquite. Mendoza is now on administrative leave pending separate investigations by Mesquite police and Dallas police internal affairs.
A Dallas police officer is on administrative leave after being arrested in Mesquite. He's also accused of firing a shot into another car.
According to a statement from Bill Hedgpeth of the Mesquite Police Department, off-duty Dallas Officer Rafael Mendoza was taken into custody early Sunday Morning.
"At about 2:40am Sunday morning, Mesquite Police responded to a “person with a gun” call in the area of IH-30 and Big Town. A caller said that a person traveling eastbound on IH-30 was holding a gun out of the driver’s side window."
The vehicle was located near I-30 and Northwest Highway.
"The driver appeared to be intoxicated and after field sobriety tests were conducted, he was arrested." the statement said. "A handgun was recovered at the scene and a small amount of marijuana was also located in the vehicle."
Officer Mendoza was taken into custody. He is charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Driving While Intoxicated and Possession of Marijuana under two ounces.
A second caller told police that the driver of vehicle matching Mendoza's fired a bullet into the trunk of his car.
The Dallas Police Department also released a statement.
"Officer Mendoza is assigned to the Northeast Patrol Division and has been employed by the Dallas Police Department since December of 2008. In addition to the criminal charges, an administrative investigation will be conducted by the Department’s Internal Affairs Division."
Dallas Police would only say Mendoza is on administrative leave while an internal affairs investigation takes place. As of Sunday evening, he was being held at Lew Sterritt, on $26,000 bond.
In August of 2011, NBC 5 reported Mendoza's arrest for domestic assault and unlawful restraint.
His former neighbor David Leon remembers seeing Mendoza fighting with a girlfriend at the time.
Leon lived across from Mendoza up until a few months ago. He described the scene he says unfolded outside their apartment building just east of downtown Dallas.
"She was screaming, and he was shaking her, and I was like man he’s a police officer what can you do?" Leon explained. "All that screaming she put up, it sounded like it was hurting."