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Sep 22, 2010 8:30 PM by Andy Koen

Judge sentences drunk driver to 4 years for hitting cop

A Colorado Springs man who injured a police officer in a drunk driving crash in March was sentenced to four years in prison.

Raymond Laracuente, 27, pleaded guilty to vehicular assault while driving under the influence. It was his second DUI conviction.

In handing down her sentence, District Court Judge Jann Dubois told the courtroom that probation is a privilege and not a right. Larcuente, she said "made the decision to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel," and that he was being sentenced to a punishment commensurate to the crime.

Shortly after the sentence was read, there was an emotional outburst by Laracuente's family members who were angered that they couldn't hug him goodbye as he was taken into custody.

Nearly a dozen sheriff's deputies ran into the courtroom to subdue them.

Laracuente admitted to officers that he felt "buzzed, but not like I couldn't drive" after the traffic March 13, 2010 in which Colorado Springs Police Sergeant Phillip LeBeau was seriously injured.

LeBeau, a motorcycle officer, was en route to assist another officer who had called for back-up when Laracuente made a left turn into the intersection of Tejon and Vermijo directly in front of him.

He was thrown approximately 45 feet from his bike, broke several bones and injured his face, neck, knee and foot.

During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Christian Lampe showed photos of LeBeau and his motorcycle from the night of the accident. He also mentioned that the first thing LeBeau asked his wife when she met him in the emergency room that night was how the other officer was who he was intending to help.

"I think the Lord that the officer's alright," LeBeau said.

The Laracuente family pleaded to the judge for leniency.  Defense Attorney Allen Gasper pointed out that Laracuente had always assumed responsibility for the accident and was very remorseful.

In testimony before the judge Laracuente apologized for the accident.

"I know I can't make up for what I've done," Laracuente said. "I just know that if it happened to me and my family I'd feel the same way."

Laracuente's blood alcohol content level was tested at .112, .095 and .085 following the accident. Following the accident he was denied entry into COMCOR, a non-profit community corrections and treatment program.

His prior drunk driving conviction came in 2005. In addition to the prison sentence, Laracuente was also order to pay restitution.

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