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Citation Reinstated in 'Ticketgate' Controversy

Posted November 30, 2007
Updated January 10, 2008

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— The Fayetteville City Council voted Friday to reinstate a traffic ticket that has sparked a political controversy in recent weeks.

The council also voted 7-3 to ask the state Attorney General's Office to investigate the actions of Mayor Tony Chavonne, City Manager Dale Iman and Police Chief Tom Bergamine in the case. Chavonne was one of the three who voted against it.

Three cars were involved in an Oct. 25 wreck at the intersection of Stoney Point and Gillis Hill roads, and a Fayetteville police officer cited driver Diana Knight, who was injured in the wreck, for running a red light after receiving conflicting reports from witnesses.

Knight's husband, Gary Knight, who was deputy garrison commander at Fort Bragg before he retired, called Chavonne that evening to complain, saying he thought police were rushing to judgment. Police voided the ticket shortly after Chavonne and Iman visited Diana Knight in the hospital.

Police later charged the driver of another car involved i the wreck, Jamell Rashad Jones, 21, with running the red light.

Iman explained his actions at a recent City Council meeting. Chavonne said he followed city policies in the incident, but he later issued a public apology for misjudging public perceptions of his involvement.

Diana Knight refused to sign the ticket when it was initially issued, Fayetteville Police Department attorney Tiffanie Snead told council members Friday, so the case should have gone through the court system.

But Snead said miscommunication between Bergamine and the investigating officer led to the ticket being voided.

"Unfortunately, Chief Bergamine didn't have that information (about Knight's refusal to sign the ticket)," she said. "It was his impression that, although the ticket had been written out, it had not been issued to Ms. Knight, (and) it was still in (the officer's) book. That's why he said, 'Just write void.' It's like writing a check."

But City Councilwoman Juanita Gonzalez said she doesn't believe that version of events.

"That's what the whole thing is about is the issuance of a ticket. So, to say that nobody knew there was a ticket issued is baloney to me," Gonzalez said.

The council voted 6-4 to reinstate the ticket. Chavonne was among those voting against the measure.

The City Council voted two weeks ago for an outside investigation of the accident and the issuance of the ticket, and Councilman Charles Evans pushed for the probe of Chavonne's and Iman's actions.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the state Highway Patrol have already declined to investigate the incident. The Attorney General's Office would review only the actions of the three officials in the case, if authorities agreed to do so.

61 Comments

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  • richard2 Dec 2, 2007

    The Mayor stinks.

  • nbforrest Dec 2, 2007

    Way to go wral, keep this stupid story online forever. Our scumbag governor supporting illegal crimminals, you hide that as quickly as possible. Maybe when you or some your family meet one head on one night it might change your mind, or put it on life support!

  • Run_Forrest_Run Dec 1, 2007

    Sorry for the typos. My keypad on the laptop is not playing nice lately.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Dec 1, 2007

    I love the apology he made. I apologise for your (public) perception - misunerstanding my actions. Again in today's world - Never claim blame.... Just blame others mistaken perceptions.

  • whatusay Dec 1, 2007

    Mrs Knight was on her cell phone and doesn't know if the light was red or not...but, that doesn't make it green.

  • anonemoose Dec 1, 2007

    SC Fireman, we don't really care what dispatchers call them. Telecommunicators will call them a crash or collision. The more backwards places still call them 10-50. You should know this from your IC classes. In NC the proper form is a DMV349, Collision Report. They are sent to the Collision Reoprts Section, ect, ect. And yes, it is illiegal to order an officer to void a citation once it has been issued. I know of one Chief that was actually charged in the western part of the state.

  • wbearp Dec 1, 2007

    Kudos to the SBI & SHP for not getting involved in this mess Fayetteville created! The Mayor, City Manager, and Police Chief all need to go. They are all weak. If they screwed up something this simple, just think how they handle the big things. The citizens and city employees deserve better!

  • sjmr1216 Dec 1, 2007

    "So why make him jump through hoops to prove his innocence?"

    Because he probably doesn't have the power nor the connections to do so.

  • Steve Crisp Dec 1, 2007

    One traffic light. Two cars. One accident as a result of one driver running a red light. If the charges have been reinstated against Knight, does that mean that the charges will now be dropped against Jones? Only one could have run the red light. If police are now implicating Knight again, that must mean that Jones is not guilty. So why make him jump through hoops to prove his innocence?

  • djofraleigh Nov 30, 2007

    They will beat it in court.

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