Local News

Magistrate: Trooper followed procedure by not releasing woman

Posted July 5, 2011

— A state trooper accused of intimidating a Raleigh woman last month in Wilmington was following state law when he didn't release her after two tests showed she hadn't been drinking.

Part of Gina Tessener's allegation is that Senior Trooper Edward Wyrick pulled her over last month, arrested her and took her to the Wrightsville Beach Police Department, where she registered a 0.00 on two separate breath-alcohol tests.

Afterward, Wyrick took her to the New Hanover County Detention Center, where she appeared before a magistrate.

Although he cannot comment specifically on what happened in Tessener's case, Wake County Chief Magistrate Dexter Williams said it appears that Wyrick followed proper procedure.

Although Tessener denied drinking, Wyrick reported that she had a "moderate odor of alcohol," which gave him probable cause to put her under arrest.

Under North Carolina law, once a law enforcement officer makes a warrantless arrest, such as a driving while impaired charge, he or she has to take the suspect before a judicial official for a probable cause hearing.

"I think most people think, 'Oh, the person blew 0.00. The officer can't take them any place else. They have to let them go,'" Williams said. "But the officer's not allowed to let them go. The officer has to follow the statute and fulfill the obligation for that."

Williams said, however, that state law does allow law enforcement officers to give "pre-arrest" tests to help them establishing probable cause.

"You can actually request a pre-arrest test," he said, "and the officer has to stop what he or she is doing and has to give them the option of getting a pre-arrest test."

That could then prevent a person from having to go before a magistrate.

"If I knew I wasn't going to blow anything, and I didn't want to get charged, I didn't want to go through all the process, then I may decide to ask for a pre-arrest test," he said.

Very few people, however, know about that provision in the law.

Tessener said she refused a field sobriety test because she didn't trust Wyrick after he said he smelled alcohol and that she wanted a witness present for the test.

Tessener also said that, during her hearing with the magistrate, the judge lectured her about "what she did wrong," even though he was about to sign her release, and told her she better not cross him again.

Williams said that a magistrate has discretion as to what to say to a person standing before him or her.

If that person registered a 0.00 blood-alcohol concentration and there was no other evidence of impairment, Williams said he would have likely released the person without comment.

Wyrick and another trooper, Andrew Smith, are on administrative duty while the Highway Patrol looks into the allegations.

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


This story is closed for comments.

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  • smithcharlese Jul 8, 2011

    @landshark you asked Does the Troopers have the option of not taking before the magistrate? No there is not an option. Once the officer finishes the test, the officer MUST take the subject to a judicial official and it would be up to the judicial official to release of confine the subject. The officer can only take his findings to the judge (magistrate). The officer himself cannot say the subject is not guilty even if the subject blows.00. This info can be found in chapter 20 of the NC General Statues see: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/statutes.asp

  • concerncitizen Jul 8, 2011

    "Although he cannot comment specifically on what happened in Tessener's case, Wake County Chief Magistrate Dexter Williams said it appears that Wyrick followed proper procedure." I have not follow every bit of info on this case, but does anyone know what the State statuses say about proper procedure to be followed by the State Police... I mean. Does the Troopers have the option of not taking before the magistrate?

  • break on through Jul 8, 2011

    Personal texts are just that..Personal. They weren't sent from a state cell phone. They were not sent to news media or the public. If they don't vent to someone, somehow, we get people killing themselves on the side of the road with their service weapon. Why are we supposed to give a pattootie what kind of language they use to talk to each other OUT OF THE PUBLIC VIEW. If they were talking in public I could see someone having a problem with their language. If you don't like what they are saying, stop reading their personal text messages. Sort of like Salt-n-Peppa said in their song "Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off" if you don't want to hear what they have to say.

  • rroutput Jul 7, 2011

    superman - the troopers here who have proven they think they are above the law and that their misjudgement should be slid under the rug. The troppers grounds for probable were proven falsified the moment she blew 0.0 on the test. There's no way he smelled alcohol - his mind was playing tricks on him. He then conspired with a fellow trooper to harass the husband and wife. No doubt these troopers pull this type of stunt regularly, the difference is they just pulled it on the wrong two people this time.

  • james27613 Jul 6, 2011

    She should have waited for her lawyer (husband) to be present at the magistrate office.

  • james27613 Jul 6, 2011

    Using profanity in text messages sent from the patrol computers in the cars is not appropriate conduct for a trooper or any state employee.

    There is more to this them we know about.

  • james27613 Jul 6, 2011

    You can see from the video that Trooper was not happy after she passed the two tests.

    He was not happy with her lawyer husband either, he got him out of camera view and then left to have words with him.

  • superman Jul 6, 2011

    She and her husband are friends of the governor and therefore not subject to the laws of this state. A good lesson to LE everwhere-- do not mess with the governor's friends or relatives. She was stopped because she had a headout burned out and her husband was speeding 56 in a 45 zone. And now they trying to along with the governor claim they were mistreated.

  • uncblue Jul 6, 2011

    babedan...nicely put. If a law enforcement officer feels threatened in any way, they have to protect themselves. After all, they are there to protect everyone...even those who break the law.

  • uncblue Jul 6, 2011

    caji316,Don't judge all law enforcement personnel by the actions of a few. I worked as part of a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and worked with the DEA, FBI, and SBI as well as local police and I can say with certainty, cops (law enforcement or police officers) are not "hired money collectors". Your logic would be the same as saying that because some pro football players break the law, that all pro football players are crooks...they're not.