Attorney called crash that killed off-duty police officer 'horrible accident,' but not DUI

Whitney Danielle Brooks is charged with felony DUI in the crash, troopers say. (Source: Dorchester Co. Detention Center)
Whitney Danielle Brooks is charged with felony DUI in the crash, troopers say. (Source: Dorchester Co. Detention Center)
North Charleston Police Officer Ryan MacCluen was killed in the crash. (Source: North Charleston Police)
North Charleston Police Officer Ryan MacCluen was killed in the crash. (Source: North Charleston Police)
Officers gathered outside MUSC early Friday morning. (Source: Live 5)
Officers gathered outside MUSC early Friday morning. (Source: Live 5)
Officers salute the fallen N. Charleston Police officer killed in a crash. (Source: Live 5)
Officers salute the fallen N. Charleston Police officer killed in a crash. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A judge set bond at $125,000 for a woman charged in a crash that killed an off-duty North Charleston police officer in Summerville Thursday night.

Whitney Brooks was in court on Friday facing a charge of felony DUI involving a death.

North Charleston Police Officer Ryan MacCluen, 31, of Summerville, was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m. Thursday, according to Dorchester County Coroner Paul J. Brouthers.

Attorney: 'A horrible, horrible accident, but not a felony DUI case'

Henry Schlein, who is representing Brooks in court, told the judge that this was a "horrible, horrible accident that never should have happened," and said the incident was not a felony DUI case, but her client failing to yield for a left turn.

According to Schlein, her client blew a 0.0 on her breath test.

Results of a blood test are pending.

An attorney for MacCluen's family asked for no bond for Brooks. The judge said she set bond based on the fact Brooks has no criminal record.

Family members for the fallen officer and the suspect were present during the hearing. Many of MacCluen's fellow officers were there as well.

Troopers say the accident happened at approximately 9:45 p.m. Thursday on Ladson Road near Henrietta Avenue,

Troopers say Brooks was operating a 2016 Toyota 4-door and tried to make a lefthand turn across the westbound lanes of Ladson Road at which time the motorcycle driven by MacCluen struck Brooks' car. Brooks was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured, Southern said.

MacCluen was off-duty at the time of the crash and was operating his 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle. He was wearing a helmet at the time, Southern said.

Charleston County School District spokesman Andy Pruitt says Brooks has been a teacher at Burke High School for six years. She is currently on administrative leave, he said.

Summerville Police closed a portion of Ladson Road Thursday night near the Cinemark Movies 8 as crews investigated the crash.

Troopers say their MAIT team is investigating the crash.

Brooks was being held at the Dorchester County Detention Center.

Friends, co-workers remember MacCluen

Cara Grooms lived next door to MacCluen's home where his patrol car sat untouched.

"Me and my husband, we are so heartbroken," she said. "Ryan was such a sweet, caring guy. It was like a breath of fresh air when he became our neighbor."

Grooms says she will have some fond memories of her neighbor.

"Just always a big old smile, a big old goofy guy, helped me and my husband out whenever he needed anything. He was always there for us," she said. "We just send our condolences to his family. They became our own family, so caring and welcome to us."

Police Chief Reggie Burgess said MacCluen's co-workers described him as "someone who loved being a police officer" and a friendly man who always had a smile on his face.

MacCluen volunteered with the Cops Athletic Program's Powder Puff Football League and was a SWAT support team member, Burgess said.

A large police presence developed Thursday night into Friday morning as news spread of MacCluen's death. North Charleston Police lined up on Jonathan Lucas and President Streets early Friday morning near MUSC.

A police procession was also seen leaving Summerville medical center around 1 a.m. after officers saluted a gurney carrying MacCluen's body that had been draped in an American flag leaving the building.

MacCluen started out as a dispatcher in 2013 and became a class-one officer on Aug. 15, 2016, according to South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Florence McCants. He graduated from the academy on Jan. 20, 2017, with a 94.47 average. He had nine tests and not any had a score below 90, which McCants said indicates he was serious when it came to his studies.

"Our hearts at the Academy go out to his personal and law-enforcement family," she said. "When we lose a life like this we all feel it."

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.