WRAL Investigates

More than half of trooper's citations were to Hispanics

Posted September 15, 2010 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2010 6:25 p.m. EDT

— About 54 percent of a Highway Patrol trooper's pending traffic cases involved Hispanic drivers, far more than other troopers in his district.

WRAL News found Wednesday that 104 of trooper Michael L. Potts' 191 pending citations were written to Hispanic drivers.

Five other master troopers in the same district have a combined 939 pending tickets, with 62 , or 6 percent, issued to Hispanics.

Sgt. Jeff Gordon, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol, confirmed Tuesday that Potts was on administrative duty but would not say what prompted the disciplinary action.

The agency declined to comment on the citations Wednesday, but it has had issues before regarding racial profiling.

In 2002, a Superior Court judge dismissed a DWI charge against a driver on grounds that trooper Clinton Carroll was targeting Hispanics.

An internal investigation, however, found no wrongdoing on Carroll's part.

Potts, who has been a trooper since Feb. 17, 2001, was assigned to Durham and Granville counties, Gordon said.

While on administrative duty, he will still receive his $56,000 annual salary.

The Highway Patrol's image has been plagued in recent years by a number of 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.