Three Coconut Creek police officers got a break last year after a high-speed chase that their commander said endangered the public with no good reason.

Now they’re under investigation for another chase, but this one left a teenager dead.

In the latest case, the officers — Rocco Favata, David Morales and Chris Lewis — were among four who gave chase after they said they discovered two teenagers in a parked car with alcohol and marijuana on Dec. 2. Abigail “Abby” Espinoza, 18, of Margate, died when the car police were chasing crashed.

The officers are still patrolling the streets of Coconut Creek while the investigation continues.

Chief Albert “Butch” Arenal said he hasn’t seen any evidence of wrongdoing so far “that would have changed the outcome of this case.”

“They do a tough job, with tough decisions, in a tough environment,” he said. “They will get the benefit of the doubt until such time as the act to remove that benefit. They will get their due process, just as any citizen accused of a crime would, and then I will deal with it.”

In the case last year, a supervisor said the officers’ actions were rife with incompetence after they defied orders to call off a chase and lied about it, according to records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The supervisor, Lt. Dominic Coppola, recommended the chief suspend them for five days without pay. Instead, Arenal gave them two days and training, reasoning that long suspensions aren’t the way to instill good behavior.

“Each of them was very contrite in that particular situation,” Arenal said in an interview this week. “I’ve never been a fan of excessive financial penalties against people, especially with families involved. When you give people excessive suspensions, oftentimes the people who really pay are their families and their ability to pay their rent.”

The chase last year began when a driver took off after Lewis tried to stop him Oct. 21, 2016, for an expired tag, records show. The driver sped off at 57 mph down Banks Road, which has a posted limit of 30 mph.

When the supervisor asked Lewis the reason for the chase, Lewis said it was for a traffic violation as well as fleeing.

The police department’s pursuit policy generally limits officers to chasing people suspected of major felonies, such as murders, carjackings and kidnappings — not for lesser traffic violations.

Coppola told Lewis to stop the chase. “Go ahead and terminate,” Coppola said at nearly 11 p.m.

Lewis replied, “I’m no longer in pursuit.” But he was, and at some point three other officers joined in.

Three minutes later, Coppola reiterated there should be “no Creek units on that” chase.

Five minutes after his first order, the pursuit ended in Margate. The driver being chased lost control of the car, causing it to jump a median, spin out and crash, according to reports.

Days later, Coppola emailed the chief and other department staff to say the officers needed to face swift consequences. Their actions “are not only reprehensible but rise to the level of incompetence,” he wrote.

Arenal said this week that Coppola wasn’t authorized to recommend a punishment. It’s the chief who determines punishment after consulting with his deputy chief and captains, Arenal said.

He said a five-day suspension would have conflicted with his efforts to build a better department. “We’re trying to build and better young officers,” he said.

The department has no prescribed range of penalties for particular misconduct by officers, he said — although he said he does step up discipline for officers who have repeat offenses.

Two weeks after last year’s chase, Coppola turned in his resignation, saying in a letter that his tenure with the city was “filled with many ups and downs.”

He couldn’t be reached to comment for this story.

Even though the police department’s policy says officers mainly should chase people for major crimes, there are exceptions — for example, if officers decide a crime suspect poses a threat to the public.

“There has to be some judgment call because every situation happening on the street has a different dynamic,” Arenal said this week. “You cannot ever write a policy for everything that happens.”

In the most recent case, Officer Favata was called to the Olivine apartment complex after someone reported loud noises coming from one of the apartments. As he investigated, he saw a car backed into a parking space, with some teens inside.

The officer said he smelled alcohol and marijuana, and he saw a liquor bottle inside the teens’ car, as well as a jar with a leafy substance, police said. He wrote that “the driver looked up at me and appeared extremely spacey. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot.”

Instead of turning off his car, the driver — Fabreece Ductan, 19, of Margate — fled, “almost sideswiping the parked car next to him. … This behavior gave me grave concern that the driver posed an imminent threat of physical harm to the public,” Favata wrote in a report.

Police said Espinoza, a recent graduate of Coral Springs High School, was a passenger in Ductan’s car.

Police say Ductan managed to briefly lose the police and then crashed in Margate.

Ductan has not been charged, pending an investigation.

Police’s in-car camera system, which logs speeds and GPS location, recorded two officers clocking in at up to 78 mph on Rock Island Road during the chase.

Before the chase began, another officer had sped up to 91 mph on Sample Road to reach the suspect’s car.

A union spokesman said the officers dropped the pursuit because it “seemed [Ductan] was driving too crazy.”

Arenal said his officers faced a dilemma because Ductan was suspected of being under the influence.

“You may or may not decide to pursue,” he said. “You will get criticized either way: Let them drive away and they kill somebody, you get crucified. If you chase them and someone gets killed, you get crucified.”

Arenal said he couldn’t yet answer whether either of his two shift supervisors allowed the pursuit, although he hasn’t seen any violations in reviewing videos.

“I haven’t talked to them yet,” he said, citing the ongoing investigation, which requires people involved to speak first to investigators assigned to the case.

Espinoza, who loved to sing and doted on her puppy, was headed to college next year with plans to become a veterinarian, according to her obituary.

She was buried Dec. 16.

Officers reassigned

After a Dec. 2 chase left a teen dead, at least three of the four officers involved were temporarily taken off their specialty assignments.

— Officer Rocco Favata was temporarily removed from the K-9 division and assigned to road patrol, officials said. He was instructed to leave his dog home. Favata, 32, who earns more than $95,000 as a K-9 officer, has been with the agency since 2008.

— Officer Chris Lewis was temporarily taken off the SWAT team. Lewis, 32, has been with the agency since 2013. He earns $64,799.28.

— Officer David Morales, who drove an unmarked car, was reassigned to road patrol. Morales, 28, who has been with the agency since 2008, earns more than $70,000.

— A fourth officer in the chase, Officer Cristian Salas, has no reprimands for police chases, records show. Salas, 41, who earns $67,000, has been with the agency since 2013.