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State senator stands behind troopers accused of misconduct

Posted July 4, 2011
Updated July 6, 2011

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— A North Carolina lawmaker says he believes a state trooper, accused of inappropriate conduct toward a Raleigh woman, did nothing wrong based on security video he's seen regarding the allegations.

Gina Tessener said last week that Senior Trooper Edward Wyrick pulled her over in Wilmington 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, Hoyt Tessener, pulled over by Trooper Andrew Smith as Hoyt Tessener was following her to the local magistrate's office after her arrest.

Wyrick and Smith are on administrative duty while the North Carolina State Highway Patrol conducts an internal investigation into the matter.

"My personal experience was that they were professional, honest and forthright," State Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, said in an email Monday after reviewing security video from the New Hanover County Detention Center, where Gina Tessener was taken after her breath test so that she could be released.

"I was shocked and angered when it was apparent that the video did not represent several of the allegations made in the letter," Goolsby said.

Goolsby was one of two dozen state officials who received an eight-page later from Hoyt Tessener about the traffic stop.

In that letter, Hoyt Tessener wrote that his wife, who hadn't been drinking, was harassed, intimidated and degraded during and that she did not feel as if she could trust Wyrick after he said he smelled alcohol.

State senator stands behind troopers accused of misconduct State senator stands behind troopers accused of misconduct

The Tesseners also claim that the magistrate lectured Gina Tessener, allegedly telling her that she thought she was better than everyone else, demanding that she acknowledge she did something wrong and telling her that she better hope she never crosses him again.

Last week, the Town of Wrightsville Beach released security video of the Tesseners at the Wrightsville Beach Police Department, where Wyrick administered the two breath tests.

A video was released Monday that shows Gina Tessener appearing before a magistrate prior to her being released during which he shakes his finger at her. The video does not have any audio.

Another video shows her and Wyrick engaged in a conversation during which both of them appear to be yelling at times.

Goolsby said in his email that he has called several state officials, including the governor and commander of the state Highway Patrol to express frustration over what he perceives to be "false allegations."

"It is time that someone spoke up and defended our troopers," he said. "I am doing so now."

Some of what the couple has claimed, however, happened off-camera, including the Tesseners' allegations that Wyrick was sending text messages on his phone shortly before Smith stopped Hoyt Tessener.

According to the letter, Gina Tessener asked Wyrick if he set up her husband.

Wyrick responded, according to the letter: "I resent you making that remark, and for that, I am not going to speak with you anymore tonight."

Gina Tessener claims that Wyrick also got upset when he learned that the other trooper let her husband go.

Wyrick denied those allegations on a note in his on his arrest report, which was released over the weekend.

"I never made contact with Trooper Smith while en route to the jail until after I verified he stopped her husband," he wrote.

Wyrick acknowledged that Gina Tessener asked him if he set up her husband, but he didn't record his response.

The accusations got the attention of not only the state Highway Patrol but also of Gov. Bev Perdue, who issued a statement last week about the matter.

“The policy of this administration is zero tolerance for unacceptable behavior," the governor said in a statement. "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 last week that Highway Patrol Commander Col. Michael Gilchrist ordered an internal review immediately upon receiving the letter Monday.

It's unclear when the agency will complete its investigation. 

352 Comments

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  • PublicAvenger1984 Jul 13, 2011

    The Tressler's claim the light was working ? Why did the dealership reccomend replacement before the incident ? Why did they replace the bulb the next day. I think Tressler owes the troopers an apology.

  • break on through Jul 8, 2011

    About time Law Enforcement Officers are getting people on their side. Praise, alcolades, and all other sorts of standing ovations to someone willing to say that there is a snowball chance in (you know where...i don't want to say the word..someone might be offended and then they'll come after me for my job) that LEO's might be right!!!

  • ICTrue Jul 6, 2011

    This clown (State Senator) needs to go too...for sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong. Why would any supposedly smart person in a postition of authority comment before even investigating? Why are the citizens always presumed guilty and these rogue cops given the benefit of the doubt?

    These cops should have term limits. After a few years on their power trips, it goes to their heads.

  • rbenson Jul 6, 2011

    I don't understand why a state senator would stand behind troopers unless he was there. Egg on his face if the troopers are proved to be in the wrong. He seems biased to me.

  • DaddyDave Jul 6, 2011

    Now that the text messages are released (exactly matching their suspicions and part of their testimony), this is a fairly straight forward case of abuse of police power.

    I thought their testimony lined up with the tapes as anyone would expect. A lot of the inconsistancies in the testimony can be chalked up to perception. When your in a situation a stressful as that must have been, you have heightened sensitivity, part of a survival mechanism. Every detail may make a difference and you mind can magnify small things into larger ones.

    I just hope the criminals that share the cells with these cops, have they same compasion they showed towards this couple. How did the police express that comapssion in their text messages again? Oh yes, I remeber, "F--- them"

    Don't let 2 bad cops ruin the reputations of thousands of others. Make an example here, and remove the temptation for all the other good ones.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jul 5, 2011

    Now even a magistrate is saying the troopers followed proper procedure.

    See update...

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/9822111/

  • abylelab -BT- Jul 5, 2011

    "SIMPLE, because they weren't released." - abylelab

    You know that doesn't make any sense, right? Because they released all of the portions that covered the claims made by Tessener. If there had been something inappropriate during the other portions, wouldn't Mr. Tessener have said something about it? The guy makes 12 different allegations in the space of four paragraphs. He certainly wasn't shy about alleging all sort of misconduct. Do you think there was an hour's worth of mistreatment he just forget to mention?
    realrhino2

    accountability, if the police asked you for information for a time period, and you only accounted for half of it, they'd be suspicious. fair is fair, there's no one way streets in abyle-land.

  • realrhino2 Jul 5, 2011

    Why would you believe the trooper did or said something inappropriate during the unreleased portions when Mr. Tessener didn't cite any of those instances in his letter and when the ones he did cite, he lied about? realrhino2

    "SIMPLE, because they weren't released." - abylelab

    You know that doesn't make any sense, right? Because they released all of the portions that covered the claims made by Tessener. If there had been something inappropriate during the other portions, wouldn't Mr. Tessener have said something about it? The guy makes 12 different allegations in the space of four paragraphs. He certainly wasn't shy about alleging all sort of misconduct. Do you think there was an hour's worth of mistreatment he just forget to mention?

  • amandadean176 Jul 5, 2011

    I stand behind the troopers too. There is more to this story than this couple's side and for all of you "junior Matlocks"--the officer was doing his job--once detained only a magistrate can release her!! On the videotape w/audio this chick was screaming just as much as the officer and being uncooperative..victim my behind!! Oh and the "set up" they have NO record of the trooper contacting the 2nd trooper who stopped her husband until AFTERWARDS..so much for the grand conspiracy theory. I'll say it again...this is a story of a well to do couple who thought they were "too good" to be stopped and follow the rules like any other ordinary citizen. I can't wait until the troopers are cleared of all of this!!!

  • 5Rs Jul 5, 2011

    "I've never seen in any story about this where the officer asked her to get in his car ONCE SHE WAS RELEASED." - RB aka

    Go read last Thursday's N and O.

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