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Ex-trooper pleads guilty in DWI case

A tearful Steven Bradley said, afterward, he used "seriously poor judgment" when he drove his car into a pond while his children were in the back seat.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A former state trooper who was arrested after he drove his personal vehicle into a pond while his children were inside pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while impaired and assault on a law enforcement officer.

A 16-year veteran of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Steven Ellis Bradley was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation, a 12-month suspended sentence and $420 in court costs and fines.

Bradley was also given a suspended 60-day jail sentence, 12 months' probation and 24 hours of community service on the assault charge.

Judge Kristin Ruth also sentenced Bradley to a 24-day active jail sentence on the DWI conviction. However, he received credit for time served because he completed 24 days of inpatient alcohol treatment.

Ruth said Bradley's 7-year-old daughter in the back seat of the car was an aggravating circumstance that resulted in a higher sentence.

"I'm just extremely thankful that my children weren't hurt from my seriously poor judgment on that evening," a tearful Bradley said outside court.

He also apologized to the arresting Raleigh police officers he struck that night, Dec. 4. Authorities said he became combative, kicked an officer and walked away. One officer's hand was broken and another received a large bruise.

"I think if we would have met on different terms, they would have had a different opinion of me," Bradley said. "I apologize to my former agency and to the courts."

Bradley, 38, resigned from the Highway Patrol in December after the accident near the intersection of Jones Franklin and Macedonia roads in Raleigh.

According to the police report, Bradley "became distracted and diverted his attention" from where he was going. When Bradley turned back around, his vehicle crossed into the intersection, passing a stop sign.

When he applied his brakes, his car skidded 26 feet before the 2006 Chrysler came to rest in the pond, 178 feet from the roadway.

Authorities said in court Wednesday that Bradley registered 0.14 on an alcohol breath test more than two hours after the crash.

Defense attorney Russell Dement said his client is "extremely remorseful" and that the events of that night were "out of character" for him.

The alcohol contributed to Bradley's poor demeanor and lack of judgment, Dement said.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour said Wednesday that law enforcement officers have an obligation to abide by law like everyone else.

"They should know the law," he said. "And if they don't, even if they know it and they violate it, they need to be held accountable for violating the law like any other citizen would."

Other charges against Bradley, including failing to stop at a stop sign, misdemeanor child abuse and carrying a concealed weapon, were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Bradley was assigned to the Highway Patrol's Special Operations Division in Raleigh. He was also a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes officers from several law enforcement agencies and federal and state officials.