City fires cop who tested DA worker after DUI wreck
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 11, 2002
[06/11/02]Two Vicksburg police officers were fired Monday, one of them implicitly accused of understating the alcohol reading of a fellow law-enforcement employee later charged with driving under the influence.
At City Hall, board members voted to uphold Chief Tommy Moffett’s request that officers Glenn Roe and Darryl Floyd be terminated.
Roe was an investigator in a March 7 wreck involving Georgia Lynn, an employee of the District Attorney’s Office, after which she was charged by other officers with DUI.
Roe, however, had testified in a defense motion to dismiss the charge that he had administered an alcohol breath test at the wreck scene to Lynn and that she registered 0.028, about one-fourth of the legal threshold. The limit under state law is now 0.10 and drops to 0.08 on July 1.
Warren County Prosecutor Johnny Price has said a separate blood test performed at the hospital where Lynn was taken after the wreck indicated a higher blood-alcohol level.
“We should be about enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner and it is my belief that officer Roe did not assist to that end,” Moffett said.
The police department wreck report indicates that Lynn had left Maxwell’s Restaurant heading east on Clay Street when she turned north onto U.S. 61. The vehicle she was driving swerved into the southbound lane and hit another car, injuring Lynn who was later taken to River Region Medical Center.
Price said that other officers on the scene testified that they could smell alcohol.
Price became prosecutor of the case after it was transferred from municipal court by City Judge Allen Derivaux to Warren County Justice Court.
Derivaux’s sudden transfer of the case, without offering it for fellow City Judge Lewis Burke, irked Moffett who said it had the appearance of impropriety.
Moffett did not say Roe was fired due to the Lynn case. “His conduct is not what we feel is becoming of a Vicksburg police officer,” Moffett said. “The message is we will not tolerate misconduct.”
Price, who has said he will take the unusual step of empaneling a six-member jury to hear the misdemeanor charge, said the case would be tried under common law rather than Mississippi’s implied consent statute because the blood test performed by the hospital is confidential patient information. Rather than use test results, witnesses will be called to testify about what they saw, smelled or heard.
“It was only a block down the street and the cause of the wreck seems clear,” Price said.
He said that witnesses will testify to the amount of alcohol Lynn drank before getting in the vehicle and officers will testify to smelling alcohol on her at the wreck.
Judge Richard Smith has not set a date for the trial.
Roe, who could not be reached for comment, had been with the Vicksburg Police Department starting in 1992, but left in 1997 and returned four years ago. The board’s decision to fire Roe can be appealed to the Vicksburg Civil Service Commission.
Moffett said that Floyd, who was with the department for two years, was also fired for conduct not becoming a police officer.
“It is my belief that he was not truthful in his reports or in testimony before safety committee,” Moffett said.
Floyd may also appeal to the civil service commission.