Local News

Raleigh attorney alleges trooper misconduct in letter to Perdue

Posted June 29, 2011

— The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is investigating a trooper's conduct following a letter from a Raleigh attorney to the governor and more than two dozen local and state officials in which the attorney claims his wife was harassed and intimidated during a traffic stop last week.

Hoyt Tessener wrote in the eight-page letter that Senior Trooper Edward Wyrick stopped his wife, Gina Tessener, in Wilmington last Tuesday for a faulty headlight and accused her of driving while impaired when she had not been drinking.

Two alcohol breath tests each registered a 0.00, the couple said, but she wasn't allowed to leave until she went before a magistrate, who yelled at and threatened her.

"She wasn't drinking, and yet, she gets arrested for DWI, and as she gets taken away, I get pulled over by another highway patrolman," Tessener said Wednesday. "If this happens to her, it can happen to anybody. It's our responsibility to let people know."

Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said in an email Wednesday that agency's Internal Affairs Unit is looking into Tessener's complaint and that Wyrick, who has been with the Highway Patrol in Wilmington since 2006, remains on active duty.

"That investigation, which is now in progress, will be fair, impartial and thorough," Gordon said, declining to comment further.

Wyrick could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hoyt and Gina Tessener Web only: Interview with Hoyt and Gina Tessener

Gina Tessener said that she had left a gala for the North Carolina Advocates for Justice convention on the evening of June 21 when Wyrick pulled her over and told her he smelled alcohol on her breath.

She said she told the trooper that she had not been drinking and refused to do a field sobriety test at the time because she was wearing high heels and an evening dress and the road was covered in gravel, her husband wrote.

She also didn't feel comfortable taking the test without a witness because Wyrick insisted that he smelled alcohol when she knew she hadn't been drinking.

"The power that he showed and the authority that he exercised was not for the best benefit of me, and I never felt safe when I was in his presence," Gina Tessener said. "It was degrading the way he was talking to me. I felt like I had cooperated. It was quite obvious I hadn't been drinking, and I didn't really know where he was going with this, and I didn't trust him."

Eventually, Wyrick arrested her on a DWI charge, the couple said, and handcuffed her so tight that she had a mark on her wrist.

After the 0.00 blood-alcohol concentration reading, Wyrick became agitated and refused to let Gina Tessener leave, she said.

"He just clenched up (after the first test). His eyes got narrow, his jaw tightened, and I'm sitting there thinking, 'I don't know why there's a second Breathalyzer,’" Hoyt Tessener said. "I watched them take Gina, put her in handcuffs, and I'm thinking, 'Why is this? She's certainly no threat.'"

Hoyt Tessener said he wrote his letter to Gov. Bev Perdue, as well as Attorney General Roy Cooper, Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young, Highway Patrol Commander Col. Michael Gilchrist and others, because he doesn't want what happened to his wife to happen to anyone else.

"You shouldn't be running away from the Highway Patrol. They're the people you're supposed to run to when you're in trouble," he said.

The Highway Patrol's image has been plagued in recent years by a number of high-profile cases involving state troopers who have resigned, been fired or been disciplined for inappropriate or questionable conduct, including profiling, drunken driving, animal abuse, sex on duty and inappropriate text messages.

In wake of the incidents, Perdue called for restructuring the agency and issued a zero-tolerance policy for trooper misconduct, requiring ethics training for all troopers, in addition to them pledging to follow a code of conduct.

Hoyt Tessener said that, although he understands the need for an internal investigation into the allegations, he's disappointed that Wyrick is still on patrol.

"I think what happens (with the investigation) will let us know whether this is a rogue trooper or whether this is a policy of the Highway Patrol," he said. "I do not want to think that it's the policy of the Highway Patrol. I don't want this to happen to anyone else again."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • caji316 Jul 8, 2011

    I'm with the lady here. I would rather walk around a bunch of street criminals than a so-called officer of the so-called Law. They all work for a Corporation and their masters want MONEY, and they want it anyway they can get it. Example: Thursday, I saw Raleigh city police officers Hiding in the woods on Pool rd. using their Radars and less than 1/4 mile down the road were at least 5 cars pulled over by other officers. They seem to love the sneaky way of doing things. Doesn't this tell you something about them?

  • dbt Jul 6, 2011

    "GS 20-157(a)

    Feel free to google it and

    That concerns when you are being approached by an emergency vehicle NOT actually stopped yourself by law enforcement

    Good thing there are good defense attorneys out there

  • americancitizen27 Jul 1, 2011

    Fake statements by the attorney?
    For reasons that I cannot say, I am beginning to doubt the facts of this case. Starting to wonder about the extreme number of frequent news reports against NC State police. I researched the growing list of those stories at WRAL and it is excessive. The number of news stories accusing NC State police is well over 50 in recent months. That is extreme. No wonder they are on edge. Something is not right here. I hope that federal investigators get involved to get to the bottom of the matter. The common key name that is extremely troublesome is Roy Cooper. He is a pit viper. He works both sides for his personal gain. I caution those involved in this case to not be taken in by his scheming. I would testify to that under oath.

    This state will never be ethical or moral until he is out of office.
    Kimberly A. Campbell, Legal Professional

  • gbarb43 Jul 1, 2011

    isnt the NC LAW " booze it and lose it?" wow,guess Wyrick's interpretation is "lose it if u dont booze it".maybe he should have stayed in school to learn the difference.

  • davidtew2005 Jul 1, 2011

    ok methinks. what type of twit are you. she DID NOT refuse a chemical test she refused a field sobriety test.if you don't know the difference look it up and stop showing your stupidity! the cop could have used an intoxilizer device that they should all have. just another example of power hungry rouge nc hw patrol gone amuck!!

  • methinks Jun 30, 2011

    Really??? Seriously?? For those of you that are saying she didn't refuse a chemical test, etc, etc, and is not subject to automatic arrest and loss of license, really?? Umm, alcohol is a chemical. Anything that impairs your ability to function (recreational drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol) whose presence is determined by some sort of analytically testing is a chemical.

  • aferguson2 Jun 30, 2011

    In 2011 America our police are becoming like those in some other countries we used to read about with a sneer: people to avoid and who themselves cause trouble. This officer's conduct was outrageous in any civilized society. He lacked any apparent probable cause to stop the citizen, and then fished for what he could get. I wonder how many other defenseless citizens he has abused in this manner. If this is the best law enforcement can do, then we have way too many members of law enforcement. If there were fewer of these guys, the ones who remained wouldn't have the time to misbehave like this guy did. Come to think of it, layoffs of LEO's would be an excellent way to start saving tax dollars.

  • leo-nc Jun 30, 2011

    "Are you seriously saying that a person can not drive to reasonably well lit safe place before pulling over for a LEO? I think you are mistaken, you may want to check on that."

    GS 20-157(a)

    Upon the approach of any law enforcement or fire department vehicle or public or private ambulance or rescue squad emergency service vehicle giving warning signal by appropriate light and by audible bell, siren or exhaust whistle, audible under normal conditions from a distance not less than 1000 feet, the driver of every other vehicle SHALL IMMEDIATELY drive the same to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right‑hand edge or curb, clear of any intersection of streets or highways, and shall stop and remain in such position unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement or traffic officer until law enforcement or fire department vehicle or public or private ambulance or rescue squad emergency service vehicle shall have passed.

    Feel free to google it and

  • mshood7 Jun 30, 2011

    Man these democrats can throw some wild parties! They sometimes forget about appointing a designated driver. Guess they just haveing too much fun on the hardworking taxpayers money they collect ever so often. Next time take out the family JET. courtesy of mr and mrs taxpayers who are being asked to sacrifice while you lowlifes travel at will. Shameless!!

  • mshood7 Jun 30, 2011

    Like my daddy always said. If you're guilty own up to it. If you're very guilty ...get even!! LOL...