SBI Inquiry Sought in Traffic Stop of Sheriff's Daughter
Posted April 10, 2008 12:38 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2008 9:48 p.m. EDT
Henderson, N.C. — Vance County District Attorney Sam Currin on Thursday asked for a state investigation into a recent traffic stop involving the daughter of Vance County Sheriff Peter White.
Currin asked the state Attorney General's Office for a State Bureau of Investigation review of the March 23 stop in which Shahita White, 34, was charged with reckless driving. The move came after WRAL obtained memos filed by two Henderson police officers who participated in the traffic stop with county officers.
Two Vance County deputies stopped a sport utility vehicle on U.S. Highway 1 near Henderson 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.
After they stopped the SUV and realized who was behind the wheel, the deputies called radio dispatchers, saying Shahita White was "blistered." The dispatchers then called the sheriff and told him his daughter had been stopped and was "55," radio shorthand for an intoxicated driver. White went to the scene to pick up his daughter.
Shahita White was charged with reckless driving, and Currin said previously he couldn't pursue drunken driving charges against her because no roadside sobriety test had been administered.
Henderson officers B.R. Hobgood and H.L. Williams stated in police department memos about the traffic stop that one deputy tried to give Shahita White a breath test to check her sobriety, but couldn't obtain a reading. White then slapped the deputy's arm away and refused to cooperate with another test, they said in the memos.
The officers described her as smelling of alcohol, being unsteady on her feet, slurring her speech and having red, glassy eyes. They also said she appeared to have urinated on herself.
The SUV had damage on the driver's side, the officers noted in the memos.
Currin said the accounts by the Henderson officers establish probable cause for a drunken-driving case against Shahita White. He said evidence is mounting that the Vance County Sheriff's Office made mistakes, so he wants an independent investigation.
"They messed it up one time. I don't want them to do it again," Currin said of the sheriff's office.
Peter White has denied interfering in the initial investigation and said his deputies handled everything properly. He couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.
The SBI investigation would focus on the drunken-driving allegations, not the sheriff's handling of the case, Currin said. But he said that he would review any evidence of a cover-up if agents brought it to him.
Vance County commissioners said they want to find out what happened during the traffic stop and why it did.
"We want answers like all the citizens, and we want to find out exactly what went wrong," said Danny Wright, chairman of the Vance County Board of Commissioners. "The commissioners are concerned about it, and it appears there was probable cause for a sobriety test to be administered, but one was not administered. So, we're interested in why not."