Lowell officer charged in fatal crash in court

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LAWRENCE, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Eric Wayne, a 19-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department, is known by  many for his healthy lifestyle.

He had a cameo appearance in The Fighter, shot in his hometown. But to the state, he's known as an accused repeat drunk driver, and is charged with killing 26-year-old Briant Paula in a head-on crash in Methuen early Saturday.

"He was unsteady getting out of the cruiser and he almost lost his balance twice in his way into the booking area," said Essex County Assistant District Attorney Michelle Defeo. "The officer as well indicated the odor coming from his breath was still very string ta that time."

Wayne already has one open OUI case from 2013, where an officer from his own department arrested him on the Fourth of July.
A year later, the 41-year old allegedly got behind the wheel drunk again, crossing into Paula's lane on Riverside Drive.

Paula's sister was in the passenger seat.

"It was an innocent person that he killed," she said outside court on Monday. "We're very upset.""

The judge revoked wayne's bail on the 2013 case, and reduced his bail from $500,000 to $100,000 in Saturday's crash. Wayne was ordered to spend 60 days in jail and then could be sent home with a GPS bracelet if he makes bail.

"It's not fair because he's a cop right?" said one of Paula's family members after the arraignment, "If it would have been me, I would have been in there, right?"

Lowell police officials told FOX 25's Crystal Haynes that after last year's July 4th incident, Wayne was out back on active duty. An administrative investigation was opened up in that case. Now, after Saturday's fatal crash, he has been put on paid administrative leave, and a second administrative investigation has been opened.

Wayne's family did not comment, but the fighter himself, Micky Ward, defended Wayne's character after court Monday.

"Great guy. It's terrible what happened.Its terrible. It's terrible," he said, then added that he couldn't answer if Wayne had an alcohol problem.

Wayne's attorney said he feels terrible about the fatal crash, but tells me that doesn't mean his client was impaired. Both OUI cases will continue with dates scheduled in September.