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Trooper charged with choking Rocky Mount cop

A state Highway Patrol trooper has been charged with assaulting a Rocky Mount police officer during a confrontation a week ago, authorities said.

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Trooper Byron Lee Varnell
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — A state Highway Patrol trooper has been charged with assaulting a Rocky Mount police officer during a confrontation a week ago, authorities said Wednesday.

Trooper Byron Lee Varnell, 34, was charged with assault by strangulation and assault on a government official.

Varnell was placed on paid leave Tuesday. He had been on administrative duty since the Sept. 2 incident.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident..

Both the Highway Patrol and Rocky Mount police have declined to identify what led to the confrontation.

Varnell has been a member of the patrol since 2001 and, in 2006, won the department’s Samaritan Award when he pulled a lady from the path of an approaching vehicle, possibly saving her life.
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