Quantcast

Report: Berkeley Co. Sheriff nearly lost control of vehicle - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Authorities release dash cam video of Berkeley Co. Sheriff's arrest; Sheriff releases statement

Still from dash camera video of DeWitt's arrest. (Source: SC Highway Patrol) Still from dash camera video of DeWitt's arrest. (Source: SC Highway Patrol)
Picture of the victim's vehicle (Source: SC Highway Patrol) Picture of the victim's vehicle (Source: SC Highway Patrol)
Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt. (Source: Berkeley County, CCDC) Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt. (Source: Berkeley County, CCDC)
DeWitt at his bond hearing. (Source: Live 5 News) DeWitt at his bond hearing. (Source: Live 5 News)
BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Authorities have released dash camera video of Berkeley County Sheriff' Wayne DeWitt's arrest following a hit-and-run in Berkeley County last week where authorities say DeWitt nearly lost control of his truck several times and sped away at speeds of 100 mph.

The video shows a truck driven by DeWitt weaving in and out of lanes, police officers jumping into DeWitt's truck after it began to roll following a traffic stop, a trooper questioning DeWitt on the incident and authorities administering field sobriety tests.  

DeWitt, who was sworn in for a new term of office on Sunday, released the following statement Monday afternoon regarding the incident. 

"First of all let me begin by stating I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment my recent conduct has caused the citizens of Berkeley County and the employees of the Sheriff's Office. I know I have greatly disappointed my family, my friends, my staff and constituents. I accept full responsibility for my conduct. I will accept whatever outcome the judicial process determines to be appropriate. In the meantime, I intend to devote my best efforts to discharging the duties of the office of the Sheriff of Berkeley County and restoring the public's trust in me. "

On Dec. 28 at 5:46 a.m., a Highway Patrol trooper responded to the Hardees parking lot on Red Bank Road after a car was struck by a truck. When the trooper arrived on scene he reported that the victim's vehicle had received "severe rear end damage."

The victim said he was slowing down when his vehicle was struck in the rear.

The trooper said authorities then told him that the truck involved in the incident had been located on Bankton Circle in Hanahan, and said the driver had been identified as DeWitt and he was believed to be under the influence.

The trooper reported that when he got to the traffic stop on Bankton Circle, he saw several patrol vehicles and two officers standing beside a man in a camouflage coat and blue jeans.

A Hanahan police officer on scene told the trooper that he was on his way to work when a pickup truck approached him from his rear at a high rate of speed.

The officer said at one point, the truck swerved around his marked patrol car and nearly lost control. According to the officer, the truck then sped away at speeds in "excess of 100 mph" and swerved all over the road and nearly lost control at least two times.

According to an incident report, the officer also observed the truck speeding through a red light at Tanner Road; the officer reported that the driver of the truck never acknowledged his blue lights and siren.

The truck eventually slowed down when it entered a 35 mph zone, and made a right onto Bankton Circle.

A police corporal stated when DeWitt exited the vehicle after officers asked him to get out, the truck started to roll forward since DeWitt did not place it in park. Two officers then jumped onto the side of the truck to place it in park while it continued to roll.

The police corporal said he could smell alcohol coming from DeWitt, and observed an open container inside the truck.

The responding SC trooper also reported smelling an odor of alcohol as well as observing DeWitt had "droopy, bloodshot and glassy" eyes.

When the trooper asked DeWitt about the collision, DeWitt said that the car had stopped right in front of him, and told the deputy he thought the "tailgate was already up and basically stopped in the road."

The trooper said when he questioned DeWitt on the "tailgate," Dewitt was "uncertain." An incident report states that DeWitt said he did not know for sure what kind of vehicle he had struck, but that it may have been a small car.

The trooper reported when he asked DeWitt if he had been drinking, DeWitt said yes and said he had last drank around 4 p.m. and thought he had one drink.

Authorities say DeWitt then voluntarily submitted to field sobriety tests. According to incident reports, DeWitt had to be reminded at least twice to hold his head still during one test and lost his balance several times.

According to the incident report, after DeWitt lost his balance during a walk and turn test, DeWitt took his boots off and reached out to the officer for balance.  The officer reported that even without boots, DeWitt continued to lose his balance during the instructional phase.

Highway Patrol officials said DeWitt refused to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Troopers said DeWitt was then brought to the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says if DeWitt's case goes to trial, prosecutors from Charleston will handle the case. Wilson released the following statement on Monday. 

"As a lawyer and prosecutor, I am subject to special rules which limit my ability to make public comments about pending cases and defendants in criminal matters. For these reasons, my office will not be commenting on the merits of Sheriff DeWitt's case or on his status as Sheriff.

Our legislature has enacted statutes which govern the ways elected officials are handled when facing criminal charges. Beyond the normal mechanics of prosecution, Solicitors are not involved in the promotion or removal of elected officials. 

Sheriff Dewitt will be prosecuted by members of my Charleston County office though venue will remain in Berkeley County. My office will notify the public if and when the Berkeley County Grand Jury returns an indictment against Sheriff DeWitt and if there are any court hearings involving our prosecution. We will evaluate what charges are appropriate after we receive all of the reports and recordings from law enforcement. The Rules also require that I remind everyone that Sheriff DeWitt is presumed innocent until and unless he is proven guilty."

The sheriff faced opposition for the first time in a re-election bid, but won the Republican primary on June 10, and ran unopposed in the November election. 

DeWitt has served as sheriff for 20 years.DeWitt began his law enforcement career as a patrolman with the Holly Hill Police Department in 1972, according to the Berkeley County website. He joined the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office in 1974 and worked there until 1992 when he took a position with MUSC, the site states.He has served as sheriff since January of 1995.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly