DA: No Evidence to Charge Sheriff's Daughter
Posted April 8, 2008 5:42 p.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2008 9:40 p.m. EDT
Henderson, N.C. — Vance County District Attorney Sam Currin said Wednesday there is "no proof" to charge the daughter of Sheriff Peter White with drunken driving, although he questions how a traffic stop last month was handled.
A deputy stopped a sport utility vehicle on U.S. Highway 1 south of Henderson on March 23 after drivers called 911 to report the vehicle was swerving through traffic as it headed the wrong way on the highway. Callers said the driver appeared to be drunk.
When the deputy realized the SUV driver was Shahita White, 34, he called Vance County dispatchers to report the incident, telling them Shahita White was "blistered." A dispatcher then called the sheriff to notify him his daughter had been charged with reckless driving, and the sheriff went to the scene to pick her up. The dispatcher told White that his daughter was "55," using a police radio-code shorthand for an intoxicated driver.
"Why didn't he stay away from a conflict of interest?" asked Vance County resident Phil Lynch, echoing a sentiment heard often in the county in recent weeks. "I think any rational, reasonable adult listening to these (911) tapes and seeing the way it was done would question it."
Currin said deputies might have been intimidated by the thought of dealing with the sheriff's daughter, but said it's "highly unusual" that they didn't give her a roadside sobriety test after she was stopped.
Without the results of a sobriety test, there's "no proof" against Shahita White that would hold up in court, he said. So, no other charges could be filed in the case.
Currin said it would have been better to bring in an outside law enforcement agency to investigate the case to avoid any appearance of preferential treatment, but he said he doesn't believe Peter White acted inappropriately.
Peter White declined to discuss the incident Wednesday, saying only that he didn't influence the investigation – his daughter wouldn't have been charged at all if he had, he said – and that some people in the county will always question his actions because of his position.
Vance County Manager Jerry Ayscue also said he believes the case was handled appropriately. Currin said he has no plans to call in the State Bureau of Investigation to review the case after the fact.