Charges dismissed against woman involved in crash that killed N. Charleston police officer
DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charges have been dropped against the woman involved in the crash which killed a North Charleston police officer in February.
Dorchester County First Assistant Solicitor Don Sorenson says the paperwork dismissing Whitney Brooks' felony DUI charge will be sent to the clerk's office Thursday afternoon.
Brooks was previously charged with felony DUI in connection with officer Ryan MacCluen's death. A judge had set bond at $125,000.
On the night of Feb. 15, 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. She blew a 0.0 on the breath test, according to her attorney.
MacCluen was off-duty at the time of the crash and was operating his 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle. He was wearing a helmet.
The dashcam video tells the story of Brooks' field sobriety test after which she was arrested.The trooper stated in her report that Brooks had "red, glassy eyes" and appeared to have a dry mouth.
According to the report, the trooper also noted Brooks' speech was slow and she had a delayed response as well as an "odor of alcohol" coming from her.
The trooper reported that Brooks lost her balance several times and was swaying during the sobriety tests. Her breath test was not administered until she was at the Dorchester County Detention Center when she blew a 0.00, according to the report.
Brooks voluntarily consented to a blood and urine test. MacCluen was laid to rest the following week. MacCluen's parents say they have forgiven Brooks.
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.
Schlein said his client was relieved when she learned the charges would be dropped.
"She was very relieved, she's anxious to get back to work," said Schlein.
He said the state superintendent will have to reinstate her teaching certificate before the local school board can reinstate her as a teacher.
Schlein said the last two months have been anything but easy, for both the MacCluen and Brooks' family.
"Whitney had to be arrested. She had to spend the night in jail," Schlein said."Her family had to come and see her on video and all of her students. The entire community saw a school teacher arrested for felony DUI and numerous people came up opposing her to have any bond."
Ryan MacCluen's family said they hope Brooks learns from what happened and take it back with her to the classroom.
"Our hope for this is that it becomes a learning moment for both her and her students," said MacCluen's father Mark Kahn. "This is a tremendous opportunity to take the grace and forgiveness that's been given and be able to apply that in a positive way. You've got high school seniors that are going to be going out in the world in a matter of weeks and this is an important lesson to take into their adult life."
Both of MacCluen's parents said following Ryan's death that they forgave Brooks, and said now they are going to try and keep his memory alive.
"We want his legacy to live on in others who pick up the torch and continue to do the things that are going to have a positive influence in our community," Kahn said.
Officials with South Carolina Highway Patrol released the following statement on Thursday:
"On February 15, 2018, the South Carolina Highway Patrol arrested Whitney D. Brooks for suspicion of DUI from a collision that resulted in the death of Ryan MacCluen. Since that time the agency has received the toxicology report in this case from the State Law Enforcement Division, which showed negative results. The Highway Patrol conferred with the 1st Circuit Solicitor's Office and the decision was made to dismiss the charge of DUI.
This collision remains under investigation utilizing the Highway Patrol's Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team. Findings at the conclusion of the investigation will be provided to the Solicitor's office for a final review."
Brooks' toxicology report is below:
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