Santa Clara deputy accused of DUI, brandishing firearm

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Authorities say a Santa Clara deputy was arrested over the weekend outside a fast food restaurant and is on leave. (KGO-TV)

A Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputy is on administrative leave after being arrested over the weekend. The veteran officer is accused of getting belligerent while in line at a Santa Clara fast food drive through.

Santa Clara County Deputy Benjamin Lee is accused of drunk driving and brandishing a weapon. The incident happened Sunday around 2:30 a.m. in a Jack In the Box drive through in Santa Clara.

Lee was in plain clothes and off duty, when a witness said he started yelling at employees because his order was taking too long and that's when a cashier said he saw Lee's gun.

"The youngster told me he thought he was getting robbed. He thought he was getting robbed at the window," said Patrick Nice, a witness.

VIDEO: Report released on Santa Clara County Correctional deputies
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The community is getting its first in-depth look at the problem of deputies mishandling inmates at the Santa Clara County jail.

Santa Clara police arrested Lee in the parking lot. Those at the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department released a short statement saying Lee is now on administrative leave while an internal investigation is also done.

"Mr. Lee has a good reputation with the sheriff's office. He's a hard worker and respected by his peers," said Roger Winslow of the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Santa Clara.

Lee's arrest comes after three correctional deputies were charged in September, with murdering a mentally ill inmate at the county jail.

A task force recently found ongoing problems with abuse and misconduct in the jail. Sheriff Laurie Smith is promising improvement. But retired Santa Clara County Sheriff's Captain Kevin Jensen isn't buying it.

"This is too much. It's overwhelming evidence that there is a cultural problem at the top, as well as many problems at the bottom," said Jensen.

Lee's attorney said his client didn't do anything wrong and even gave a blood test to police that night. Lee will be in court March 10.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Attorney describes inmate's alleged beating by Santa Clara County deputies
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