One trooper cleared, another suspended in mistaken drunken driving arrest

Staff writerJuly 8, 2011 

— RALEIGH -- The N.C. Highway Patrol announced Friday that its internal investigation has cleared Senior Trooper Edward S. Wyrick of any wrongdoing in the mistaken drunken driving arrest of a Raleigh woman last month.

The patrol will suspend Trooper Andrew M. Smith, who exchanged a series of profane text messages with Wyrick ridiculing the woman, Gina Tessener, after she twice blew a 0.00 on a breath alcohol test.

The length of Smith's suspension has not yet been made public. Wyrick was cleared to return to the road immediately.

The woman's husband, Hoyt Tessener, released a statement shortly after the patrol's decision was announced.

"I am disappointed in the results of the Highway Patrol’s investigation of the Highway Patrol," Tessener said in an e-mail. "As a citizen, I trusted that a “zero-tolerance” policy meant zero tolerance. Unfortunately for the citizens and visitors of North Carolina and for the vast majority of honorable Troopers, nothing has changed.

"Trooper Wyrick wrongfully arrested my wife as evidenced by the tests and I believe most people would come to the conclusion that Wyrick orchestrated the stop of me. I understand now why people are afraid to bring their complaints forward. We hope by coming forward other women who are wrongfully stopped by Trooper Wyrick will be vigilant," he said.

In a statement, patrol commander Col. Michael Gilchrist said several discrepancies were discovered between Tessener's June 24 written complaint and what the internal investigation found through witness accounts and other information.

"The information and evidence obtained during the investigation does not support Mr. Tessener’s allegations," Gilchrist said in a written statement. "However, the investigation did show that Trooper Smith violated Patrol policy, and he will be disciplined accordingly."

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