Attorney: Trucker suffering from medical condition

Charles Caldwell (Courtesy: Durham Police Dept.)

July 31, 2012 4:00:55 PM PDT
An attorney for the driver of an 18-wheeler that crashed into a Durham police officer's patrol car on Interstate 85 last week is firing back against the charges against him.

Durham attorney Bill Thomas told ABC11 Tuesday that blood tests conducted by Duke University Medical Center found no alcohol, narcotic analgesics or drugs in Charles Caldwell's system.

Caldwell was behind the wheel of his big rig Wednesday when eyewitnesses said they saw his tractor trailer swerve and slam into Durham Police Officer Teresa Gilliam's unmarked cruiser that had just pulled another driver over.

The 44-year-old trucker from Georgia now faces a laundry list of charges from felony serious injury to DWI.

According to court records obtained by ABC11, Caldwell was seen weaving all of the road before the crash. He was going 70 in a 60 mile per hour zone and failed to move over as he was approaching Gilliam's stopped patrol car.

Investigators said Caldwell had slurred speech, appeared to be sleepy, and failed roadside tests. His blood was drawn at the crash scene, after officers thought his behavior was a sign of drug use.

However, Thomas claimed Caldwell was suffering from a medical condition.

A warrant stated that Caldwell complained of chest pains at the scene before he was rushed to the hospital.

"The Durham police has an unfortunate history of charging serious crimes without conducting a thorough investigation. And this is yet another example." Thomas said. "Charging this innocent man with a crime he did not commit only compounds this tragedy."

Though, court documents revealed Caldwell's truck was searched and an unknown blue capsule was found on the floor. And when it came to the details leading up to the crash, investigator said there were inconsistencies in Caldwell's story.

On Tuesday, Caldwell appeared in court a day after he was released from the hospital, but he didn't say a word. He is currently out on bond.

Meanwhile, Gilliam, who is a 15-year police veteran, is still recovering in the hospital. Warrants revealed she suffered two broken ribs, a brain injury and injuries to her spine and back. The driver she'd pulled over did not suffer any major injuries.

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