Montgomery County, MD – The drunk driver who killed Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta in 2015 walked out of prison early last week after serving just half of his sentence.
Luis Gustavo Reluzco was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October of 2016 for drunkenly crashing into Officer Leotta as the three-year department veteran was wrapping up a traffic stop on Dec. 3, 2015, WTTG reported.
The 24-year-old officer was working a special assignment on the Montgomery County Police Department’s (MGPD) Holiday Alcohol Task Force at the time of the collision, according to Bethesda Magazine.
Officer Leotta had just finished a traffic stop and was getting into his cruiser when Reluzco hit his patrol car and then crashed into him, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Investigators said Reluzco didn’t touch his brakes and had barely begun to swerve when he collided with the officer at speeds somewhere between 30 and 50 miles per hour, Bethesda Magazine reported.
Officer Leotta was launched over 25 feet, leaving him with traumatic injuries.
He was rushed to Suburban Hospital and remained on life support until his death on Dec. 10, 2015, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Reluzco confessed to having used marijuana and consumed Xanax, six whiskey drinks, and four beers prior to jumping behind the wheel that night, Bethesda Magazine reported.
His blood-alcohol content was 0.22 shortly after the collision.
Reluzco had already racked up three prior alcohol-related offenses prior to killing Officer Leotta.
“You have received leniency before and the behavior pattern you exhibited did not change and this time [it had] devastating and tragic consequences,” Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ann Harrington said at the time of his sentencing, according to Bethesda Magazine.
“This is not the time for leniency,” Harrington noted as she sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Just over five years later, on May 28, Officer Leotta’s killer was allowed to walk out of prison early for good behavior, WTTG reported.
The fallen officer’s father, Richard Leotta, called the release “reprehensible.”
“I don’t believe he is sorrowful for what he did,” Leotta told WJLA. “And what’s sorrowful about this is he lives in Olney. He lives in my neighborhood. That’s where his family lives. So, I’m likely to see him around when he’s out and about.”
Time will tell whether or not Reluzco has truly been reformed, he said.
“He going to have to prove that he deserves my forgiveness,” the grieving father told WTTG. “He should change his ways, his life. He should do everything in his power to honor Noah by doing the right thing from this day forth. He’s being released on good behavior – well, let’s see that good behavior.”
Officer Leotta’s family helped ensure the passage of a Maryland state law requiring interlock devices to be installed in vehicles of people convicted of drunk driving, WTTG reported.
But according to Leotta, many judges have been skirting the law by sentencing offenders to probation prior to judgement, WJLA reported.
The Leotta family is currently pushing for federal legislation to require every new vehicle be equipped with technology capable of detecting whether or not the driver is intoxicated.
“The auto industry can try and fight it tooth and nail, but essentially once one automaker starts putting this in, people recognize the goodness of it and saving lives, it will happen,” Leotta told WJLA. “They can fight things as they always do with airbags, seat belts, and the cameras, all of that, but now, those things are standard.”
“All we’re asking for is to save lives. Make it standard. It’s not that expensive. It’s pennies on the dollar, and what is the cost of a human life?” he asked.