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Ex-trooper pleads guilty in DWI case

Posted May 21, 2008

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— A former state trooper who was arrested after he drove his personal vehicle into a pond while his children were inside pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while impaired and assault on a law enforcement officer.

A 16-year veteran of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Steven Ellis Bradley was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation, a 12-month suspended sentence and $420 in court costs and fines.

Bradley was also given a suspended 60-day jail sentence, 12 months' probation and 24 hours of community service on the assault charge.

Judge Kristin Ruth also sentenced Bradley to a 24-day active jail sentence on the DWI conviction. However, he received credit for time served because he completed 24 days of inpatient alcohol treatment.

Ruth said Bradley's 7-year-old daughter in the back seat of the car was an aggravating circumstance that resulted in a higher sentence.

"I'm just extremely thankful that my children weren't hurt from my seriously poor judgment on that evening," a tearful Bradley said outside court.

He also apologized to the arresting Raleigh police officers he struck that night, Dec. 4. Authorities said he became combative, kicked an officer and walked away. One officer's hand was broken and another received a large bruise.

"I think if we would have met on different terms, they would have had a different opinion of me," Bradley said. "I apologize to my former agency and to the courts."

Bradley, 38, resigned from the Highway Patrol in December after the accident near the intersection of Jones Franklin and Macedonia roads in Raleigh.

According to the police report, Bradley "became distracted and diverted his attention" from where he was going. When Bradley turned back around, his vehicle crossed into the intersection, passing a stop sign.

When he applied his brakes, his car skidded 26 feet before the 2006 Chrysler came to rest in the pond, 178 feet from the roadway.

Authorities said in court Wednesday that Bradley registered 0.14 on an alcohol breath test more than two hours after the crash.

Defense attorney Russell Dement said his client is "extremely remorseful" and that the events of that night were "out of character" for him.

The alcohol contributed to Bradley's poor demeanor and lack of judgment, Dement said.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour said Wednesday that law enforcement officers have an obligation to abide by law like everyone else.

"They should know the law," he said. "And if they don't, even if they know it and they violate it, they need to be held accountable for violating the law like any other citizen would."

Other charges against Bradley, including failing to stop at a stop sign, misdemeanor child abuse and carrying a concealed weapon, were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Bradley was assigned to the Highway Patrol's Special Operations Division in Raleigh. He was also a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes officers from several law enforcement agencies and federal and state officials.


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  • jlh4jdj May 21, 2008

    makarov90 Sorry for the slow response (work and all). I do have proof. I have called to report these things. I was told that it would be looked into. I then was on I 40 again and almost side swiped by a trooper who was flying through traffic (in and out) with no lights or siren. Maybe if officers were not like you and realize that most people do want to respect officers and the job they do. I just have a problem when I am obeying the law and officers think giving a ticket is more important than my life. To address two other things. I also have to work for the public and can only dream of having a self centered life. There is no way you convince me that Quotas are not used either over or under the table. Let me make the point to you one more time I have no tickets or legal matters what so ever pending. So your comments are off base. I follow the law.

  • leo-nc May 21, 2008

    If I were in this guys shoes, and lost everything I had because of my own mistake; I don't know if I could live without somehow turning this into a positive. This guy has an opportunity whether he knows it or not. He has the opportunity to travel and teach people about the dangers of drinking and driving. If I were him, I would develop my own presentation and program and team up with MADD and other organizations to get the word out. Who better than someone with first hand experience on the "LAWBREAKER's" side? Many of the presentations come from the victims and their families. This is good, but to have the opportunity to bring out both sides and give a complete presentation, that could be very powerful for those who are watching. He could make a very powerful statement against drinking and driving here. Will he choose that path? I hope so. It's not likely but you never know. He might take this huge negative and turn it into something that could save countless lives.

  • CuriousT May 21, 2008

    ssi -

    "How 'bout we set up an oversight committee for every profession and have the committees made up of outside people who know nothing at all about the profession they are overseeing. Make sense?"

    I don't know that I'd consider them an "oversight committee", but this sounds dangerously close to our elected officials.

  • Rocknhorse May 21, 2008

    leo-nc, unfortunately, you are correct. I have friends among several branches of law enforcement and heard them say similar. It's a problem when the arrested is out on the street even before the officer has completed the paperwork, but that's how it goes very often. It's amazing to me that officers don't get burned out for feeling like they are simply running in place and getting no where.

    Duster, I think you misunderstood my post about jail time. I was responding to the comment that "no punishment would be satisfactory." Indeed, I think that the punishment I wrote would be a good START for a first offense and that includes mandatory jail time. I think our sentencing for dui is terribly soft. Unless someone actually gets hurt, there basically is no punishment, which does nothing to deter the person from repeating the offense until they do hurt someone.

  • leo-nc May 21, 2008

    "Not only do I feel his sentencing is shamefull light, I daresay that had it been an average citizen who was arrested for dui while endangering their children AND that person assaulted a police officer, they would have been dealt a much more strict punishment."

    No they aren't. How do I know this? Because every day I spend in court, I see the same things over and over. Cases getting dismissed on things that you could never imagine, reductions to careless and reckless on a continuous basis, dismissals after DA's and Defense attorneys meet behind closed doors. At least have some of your facts straight because you are dead wrong. Almost NONE of the DWI cases I see spend any jail time.

  • tooblessed May 21, 2008

    We are all humans and no one is above the law. We all make mistakes; unfornately this one may cause him his career in law enforcement.

  • ssi May 21, 2008


    How 'bout we set up an oversight committee for every profession and have the committees made up of outside people who know nothing at all about the profession they are overseeing. Make sense?

  • djofraleigh May 21, 2008

    This is the man who was on Oprah. Maybe she will bail him out financially and give me some of her billions of dollars. She made money off him the first time round.

    What a loss to this family, and I blame alcohol for having it be as bad as it was....Don't drink and think...

  • KevinUNC97 May 21, 2008

    There are more bad apples than they let on. I've been harassed on many occasion by our state's finest. I've called supervisors and they only ask that you provide them with information and they will do an internal investigation (which never happens). He, check out this other bad apple: http://wral.com/golo/page/1896337/?id=2816523.
    Why wasn't he charged with crimes like Michael Steele is serving 9 years in prison for? NCSHP has always been corrupt, and seriously needs an oversight committee based on people outside of law enforcement!

  • duster 340 May 21, 2008

    Rocknhouse, What jail time ? He completed 24 days of inpatient alcohol treatment. Who paid for this service ?