Local News

Troopers off patrol after Raleigh couple's mistreatment claims

Posted June 30, 2011

— Two state Highway Patrol troopers were placed on administrative duty Thursday after a Raleigh woman's claim that she was mistreated and falsely arrested by a state trooper in Wilmington.

Gina Tessener's husband, Hoyt Tessener, sent a letter last week to Gov. Bev Perdue and more than two dozen other state and local officials on Friday complaining about his wife's treatment during a traffic stop.

Gina Tessener said Senior Trooper Edward Wyrick pulled her over after she left a gala on June 21 and arrested her on a driving while impaired charge despite the fact that she registered a 0.00 reading on two separate alcohol breath tests.

She said she believes Wyrick also arranged to have her husband, who was following her, pulled over by another trooper.

“The policy of this administration is zero tolerance for unacceptable behavior," Gov. Bev Perdue said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "The Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety and the Colonel of the Highway Patrol will take appropriate action upon completion of their investigation.”

Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said Thursday that Highway Patrol Commander Col. Michael Gilchrist ordered the internal review immediately upon receiving the letter Monday.

Wyrick and Trooper Andrew Smith, who are assigned to the Highway Patrol's Wilmington office, were off work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Gordon said. Upon reporting to work Thursday morning, he said, they were instructed to go to Raleigh for questioning.

Smith has been with the agency since 2009; Wyrick since 2006.

Wrightsville Police Department security video Wrightsville Police Department security video

The Highway Patrol also released recordings of radio transmissions that confirm Wyrick took Tessener to the Wrightsville Beach Police Department for an alcohol breath test.

The Town of Wrightsville Beach also released security video of the Tesseners at the police station, as well as Wyrick administering two breath tests.

"We have been rapidly going through the investigation. Although it's been fast and it's been comprehensive in detail, we're still in the process of investigating," Gordon said.

"Anytime we get any kind of allegation or complaint, the Highway Patrol takes those seriously, and this complaint is just as serious as any other complaint we get," he added.

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 the zero-tolerance policy for trooper misconduct, requiring ethics training for all troopers, in addition to them pledging to follow a code of conduct.


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  • Citizens Arrayest Jul 4, 2011

    There are certain perfumes that smell like Wild Turkey

  • Jenny8 Jul 4, 2011

    WRAL, shame on you for your headline. While technicly it is correct, your choice of wording is a deliberate attempt to look like the two troopers are off the force instead of just on desk duty for the duration of the investigation.
    The more I find out about this case the more I think the troopers didnt do anything wrong anf the lawyer and his wife are just trouble makers.

  • Rebelyell55 Jul 4, 2011

    That what happen when you drink cheap wine. The odor stays for a while. The trooper smelled something. The stopping of the husband does sound a little off. The report from Raleigh will clear this up for all of us.

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 1, 2011

    I would love to read a letter written by the person the lawyer is accussed of assaulting.

  • Garner-Bob Jul 1, 2011

    There are a subset of law enforcement officers that are simply bullies with guns that believe that they are above the law. Quite frankly the faster that we can weed them out the better.

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 1, 2011

    realrhino, wway in Wilm reported the "sipping wine" comment she made, yet the letter stated she had not been drinking at all.

  • sabol100 Jul 1, 2011

    Why do so many continue to put the cart before the horse. He had taken her into custody prior to the breath test. You keep saying she blew a 0.00 so he shouldn't have arrested her. You don't know what all the reasons were for the original rest. We still have only the Tesseners side as to the trooper smelled alchol...yada, yada, yada...we don't know if she had slurred speach (note - her voice is slower and not the same as when she did the interview with her husband - just sayin) or any other behavior trait that might have led the trooper to believe she might be under the influence. Put the facts in proper order...you can sit a pick out one item all day, but that does not make something right or wrong for the whole picture.

  • realrhino2 Jul 1, 2011

    Where is this information about "sipping wine" coming from? Are people so ready to hang the police they'll forgive anything? Sipping wine is not unlawful, but it places everything up until they leave the station in a different light. If she'd been sipping wine, possible for trooper to smell something no matter what she blew on the test. Also makes her alleged reason for refusing any field tests ("he was accusing me of the impossible") completely bogus.

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 1, 2011

    jody4663, the point is; did she lie the night she was pulled over or did the lawyer lie when he wrote the letter? No, it is not illegal to sip wine, thats not the point. My guess is she told the truth and the lawyer lied in his letter. There is a pattern of lies in this letter that are emerging.

  • jody4663 Jul 1, 2011

    The letter says she did not drink at all yet the night of the incident she admits to "sipping wine".

    Your point? Sipping wine is not unlawful. You don't know what time she "sipped wine". Obviously it was long before she drove if in fact she did.