Suspect in Montgomery Co. officer's death held on $250K bond

A judge set bond at $250,000 for an Olney man accused of running down a Montgomery County police officer while being drunk behind the wheel.

Officer Noah Leotta died last December five days after he was struck and killed on Rockville Pike.

Reluzco, 47, was indicted Thursday morning, and turned himself in a few hours later. He faces charges including manslaughter by automobile and what is commonly referred to as the "Move Over Law," which states drivers must change lanes or slow to a reasonable speed when approaching an emergency vehicle on a highway.

On Friday, prosecutors said Luis Reluzco had a blood alcohol content nearly three times over the legal limit.

Reluzco appeared in court Friday afternoon via closed circuit television from the jail and said nothing as prosecutors laid out their case against a man who works as a bartender at Bethesda Country Club.

Prosecutors said he has been arrested three times for DWI since 1987. It is a fact that has infuriated the family of Officer Leotta.

Leotta's father spoke passionately to reporters after Friday's hearing and said he didn't sleep at all Thursday night. He said he went to his son's graveside to talk to him before attending the hearing.

"Ten years, that is all he can get maximum - the likelihood of that - probably not," said Rich Leotta. "We know how that plays out most likely, but with the laws that we do have, the judges need to implement those laws and enact them effectively, efficiently and make sure that they give people proper sentences and don't let them off."

According to his attorney, Reluzco is deeply remorseful over the death of Officer Leotta and offers no excuse for his actions.

The Bethesda bartender had taken the prescription medication Zanax before spending hours tossing back drinks at a Hooters restaurant on Rockville Pike, according to prosecutors.

"I think he was wreckless and irresponsible," Rich Leotta said of Reluzco. "He's not someone who cared about anyone else on the road. All he cared about was having drinks."

Leotta's father added that Reluzco had done this before, and that he didn't learn his lesson -- and that it's impossible to know how many times he had driven drunk in the past.

"I don't know how that is somebody who is sympathetic," Leotta's dad said, adding that he hasn't heard from Reluzco in any form since the accident to apologize or express any remorse.

Officer Leotta, who was working on a drunken driving task force, had just pulled over a suspected drunk driver when he was hit from behind while standing outside his cruiser. He was immediately knocked unconscious and suffered an survivable head injury.

The 24-year-old was lauded at his funeral for being a terrific cop who cared deeply about keeping the roads safe for other drivers.

Now, his father is on a mission to get a law passed in Maryland that would require drivers convicted of DWI to blow into a breathalyzer before being able to start a car.

".08 is drunk in Maryland," said Rich Leotta. "It's not .15, it's not .09. That is when the interlock device needs to be implemented. I don't care if it is one drop over it … you're over the limit, you're drunk, you don't drive drunk. That puts everybody at risk. My son is dead because of that."

Officer Leotta's father called on everyone in the state to reach out to their lawmakers to get what the family is calling "Noah's "Law" passed this year in Annapolis.

Also at Friday's news conference, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger called the state's drunken driving laws "disgraceful" and noted nine people in the county died last year in accidents caused by drunk drivers.