Berkeley Co. Sheriff Wayne DeWitt resigns following Dec. arrest

VIDEO: Berkeley Co. Sheriff Wayne DeWitt resigns following Dec. arrest

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Nikki Haley accepted the resignation of Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt "effective immediately" Wednesday afternoon.

DeWitt resigned from office and apologized again for his December arrest in connection to a hit-and-run in Berkeley County. 

DeWitt announced his resignation and released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

In my recent public statement I apologized for my well-publicized conduct of December 28, 2014. I reiterate how sorry I am for my actions and the poor choices I made.

Because of the magnitude of the decision and its implications I have taken some time to honestly assess the situation with the singular goal of "doing what is right and what is honorable". I have done much private soul searching.

In the end, I know and understand the entire situation is the product of my own failures. As an elected official, as Sheriff and as a person, I recognize that I must be held accountable. I have concluded that in light of the cloud on the Office of Sheriff of Berkeley County resulting from my conduct on December 28th, I can no longer be an effective public servant regardless of how the legal process unfolds.

I am convinced that the best way to begin to restore the public trust is for me to resign from the Office of Sheriff of Berkeley County. By letters to the appropriate officials I am tendering my resignation effective immediately.

I want to thank the citizens of Berkeley County for the honor of serving you as your Sheriff for many years.

"The offices will continue to run effectively in serving the people of Berkeley County and give them the best protection, " said Berkeley County Chief Deputy Rick Ollic who is now the acting sheriff of the county.

Dewitt was arrested in Hanahan on charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident on Dec. 28, 2014.

Hanahan Police Department officers reported to the SC Highway Patrol, the arresting agency, that DeWitt nearly lost control of his truck several times and sped away at speeds of 100 mph.

Dash came video related to the incident showed a truck driven by DeWitt

, police officers

after it began to roll following a traffic stop, a trooper

and authorities


DeWitt, who was sworn in for a new term on Jan. 4, released the following statement on Jan. 5 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. "

Haley said the office of sheriff is deemed "vacated" and that seat would be filled "in the manner according to law."

Berkeley County Chief Rick Ollic will take over until a special election is held for the position. Gov. Haley also has the right to appoint a replacement.

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.
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. 

Protesters have been calling for DeWitt's resignation since January. Other protesters called for additional charges of failure to stop for blue lights and reckless driving.

DeWitt served as sheriff since January, 1995.

He 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.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All rights reserved.