Two troopers quit, one after arrest

Former Trooper Timothy Scott Stiwinter, assigned to Henderson County (Asheville Police Department/WTVD)
June 24, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
Two more North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers are trouble.

Department officials confirmed Friday that Trooper Timothy Scott Stiwinter was charged with drunken driving and felony hit and run after a wreck at the intersection of Airport Road and Fanning Bridge Road in Asheville Thursday evening.

A 911 call was released Friday afternoon from a citizen who witnessed the crash at an intersection near the Asheville airport.

    Caller: I have a hit and run now thanks to the dumb**** that just took off.
    911 operator: Ma'am?
    Caller: There's a man that.. I'm at the intersection of Airport Road and Fanning Bridge Road.. there's an older man that.. that's been broadsided and the guy that hit him was drunk and took off.

Click here to listen to the 911 call (.wma)

Apparently the man's injuries were not life threatening. Stiwinter was not on duty and was driving his personal vehicle.

The Asheville Citizen Times reported court papers showed Stiwinter refused to take a field sobriety test and the arresting officer had to get a court order for his blood.

Click here to read the article in the Asheville Citizen Times

ABC11 has confirmed that Stiwinter was released from the Buncombe County jail Friday morning. He faces charges of DWI and hit and run.

A spokesperson for the Highway Patrol told ABC11 that Stiwinter resigned from his job Friday. He referred all questions about the accident to the Asheville Police Department.

Trooper Stiwinter started with the Patrol in 1999 and was assigned to the Troop G District 3 Hendersonville Patrol Office.

But it turns out this isn't the first time Stiwinter's gotten the attention of his Highway Patrol superiors. Stiwinter was on leave back in September after the ABC TV station in Ashville reported that his wife had taken out a protective order saying he threatened to put a bullet between her eyes. But his wife never pressed charges and Stiwinter stayed on with the patrol.

Eyewitness News also learned on Saturday that yet another trooper, Lieutenant Roger Young of Greensboro, resigned on June 16th, although the Patrol hasn't said why.

"It seems like it's one thing after the other," NCHP Spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said. "We're gonna take this into account and we're going to try to rebound from this and keep doing what we do best."

Gordon says the vast majority of the 1,800 troopers work hard for the public and don't get into trouble. But even the governor is frustrated by the more three dozen troopers who have made news since 1998 --a figure that seems to have escalated recently.

According to a spokesperson for Bev Perdue, "no one is more frustrated by this latest news about misbehaving troopers than Governor Perdue. While she continues to believe that most of the men and women of the Highway Patrol do an excellent job every day, the simple fact remains, we expect better from all who wear the uniform."

Stiwinter's arrest comes just days after Major Everett Clendenin - once the public face of the NC Highway Patrol - announced his resignation over allegations involving text messages with a female co-worker.

And Monday, a third Butner Public Safety officer was fired for his involvement in an April 3 traffic stop involving an off-duty trooper in Granville County. Investigators said Butner officers took Captain James Williams Jr. of the Highway Patrol to a hotel instead of arresting him on suspicion of DWI. Officers did not file any charges against Williams nor were any sobriety tests administered.

Williams was fired from the Highway Patrol.

The Williams and Clendenin cases come after another trooper resigned earlier this month amidst an investigation of alleged misconduct.

That trooper was just the latest in a long line of officers being investigated for everything from inappropriate sex, to K-9 abuse, to drunk driving, and deadly accidents.

ABC11's I-Team did some checking, and in the last three years, the patrol has had to fire at least five troopers and has accepted at least six resignations.

While the department has been under fire for the problems with some officers, Reuben Young, Secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, said at a news conference following Clendenin's resignation that the patrol should not be judged by the actions of a few.

"It's unfortunate that we have people from time to time who make bad decisions, exercise poor judgment," said Young. "When they do that, we address those issues within the confines and the policies of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. But we're going to keep working hard and we're going to keep studying what we need to do to try and improve upon making our troopers more prepared for what they do and more mindful of how they should conduct themselves out on the highways."

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