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Cops debated before arresting city manager for DUI
Thu, 06/08/2006 - 3:06pm
By: John Munford
Two top-ranking police officials questioned whether it would be wise to arrest the Peachtree City manager for DUI while driving his golf cart Saturday night after a concert, according to several police reports obtained Thursday morning under the Georgia Open Records Act.
In their reports, Major Mike Dupree and Capt. Stan Pye noted how uncomfortable they were with the situation. DuPree and Pye stopped Bernie McMullen after he began to drive his golf cart toward them in the parking lot, with a glass of what appeared to be wine in his hand, according to Pye’s report.
At one point, Dupree and Pye had called a cab to take McMullen home, one of the reports indicated. They also contacted Chief of Police James Murray, but any direction he may have given them is unclear in the reports.
DuPree and Pye’s reports also state several times that they were afraid either investigating or not investigating the incident could lead to retribution against them.
McMullen was ultimately arrested for DUI after a police sergeant conducted a field sobriety test, police reports indicate. Williams indicated in his report that McMullen had difficulty following several of the physical requirements of the test. A reading from a portable alcohol sensor showed that McMullen had an alcohol content of .104. McMullen later declined to take a test on the department’s desktop breath alcohol testing device, the results of which could possibly have been used in court.
When the sergeant, Brad Williams, informed McMullen he was being arrested for DUI, McMullen “asked to call the Chief of Police in to speak with him,” Williams said in his report.
“I advised him that I did not think that the chief of police would come in at this time of night but the captain and the major were standing nearby. The subject then asked me if I knew who he was and I advised, ‘no.’ He then told me that he was the city manager for Peachtree City,” Williams wrote in his report of the incident.
The decision to investigate McMullen for a suspected DUI case made both Pye and DuPree uncomfortable according to their reports.
“As we stood there talking, it was clear to me that he should not be operating the vehicle any longer due to the fact that I felt he was an unsafe driver and a hazard,” Pye wrote in his report.
A short time later, Pye had continued talking to McMullen and noted that “the more I spoke with him and watched his movements, the more it was clear that he was very intoxicated and should be held accountable for driving under the influence and possessing an open container in one of the city’s recreational areas.”
Soon after, McMullen told Pye that he felt “targeted and harassed,” according to Pye’s report. McMullen also said at least two times that he was not resisting the officers, one report stated.
Both DuPree and Pye indicated in their reports that they were uncomfortable doing anything but treating McMullen like an average citizen, and after they had a discussion to that affect, Sgt. Williams was summoned to the scene to conduct the sobriety test on McMullen.
Earlier in the evening, DuPree and Pye had noticed that McMullen appeared intoxicated as they said good-bye to him at the amphitheater’s exit, their reports stated. One of the accounts stated that McMullen and a female friend he was with appeared to be leaning on each other as they exited the amphitheater.
Both Dupree and Pye’s reports indicated that they assumed McMullen was going to be given a ride home; there was no indication that McMullen left the amphitheater with an open container of alcohol.
Minutes after saying good-bye to McMullen, the officers encountered him driving toward them on the nearby cart path, and they decided to stop him.
“While walking toward him to stop him, Capt. Pye stated we could not let him drive. I agreed, as he obviously appeared intoxicated upon leaving the concert,” DuPree’s report stated.
The officers first inquired whether anyone could take home McMullen and two passengers in his golf cart, DuPree’s report stated.
“After trying to make a phone call, someone suggested calling a cab. After a very brief discussion with Capt. Pye, we reluctantly considered doing this,” DuPree’s report stated.
Then DuPree pulled McMullen aside for a chat.
“During our conversation, based on my vast experience, I believed that Mr. McMullen’s demeanor was very indicative of that of a person who was intoxicated to the point of impairment. ... He explained that he had drank about two glasses of wine and thought that he could drive. I told him that in my opinion he was impaired and that I would not allow him to drive,” DuPree’s report stated.
McMullen also told DuPree that “it had been a rough week and that he had planned to drink a couple of glasses of wine at the concert, that is why he drove his golf cart rather than his car,” the report stated.
Dupree and Pye’s reports also indicated that as McMullen approached them on the golf cart, he appeared to be attempting to conceal the wine glass.
Before asking McMullen to step out of the cart, they asked him several times to pour out his wine, DuPree and Pye’s reports stated. Pye’s report indicated that McMullen once said, “it’s just wine” before ultimately pouring it out. The wine spilled on Pye’s shoe, according to his report.
DuPree noted that when he and Pye made contact with McMullen on the golf cart, they both had a bag of popcorn leftover from the concert.
“Due to the situation, I felt awkward dealing with our city manager regarding a law enforcement violation with both Capt. Pye and I having a bag of popcorn in our hands. I took Capt. Pye’s popcorn and proceeded to my vehicle...” DuPree wrote in his report.
Officers who work security at the amphitheater typically are stationed at the exit to remind patrons to dump any alcoholic beverage they may have ... or drink it there on the spot, DuPree said in an interview Wednesday. It is a violation of city ordinance to possess alcohol in a city park, and the amphitheater is surrounded by the McIntosh Trail recreation complex, which includes a nearby skating ramp and picnic shelter.
The amphitheater erects signs before each concert reminding patrons not to bring their drinks into the parking lot, police said.
Although police have said they notice intoxicated persons leaving the amphitheater, it is generally assumed they all have designated drivers to take them home, police said.
The security officers don’t usually reach the parking lot until after most amphitheater patrons have left the parking lot, DuPree said. Occasionally officers have to go to some people in the adjacent pavilion area and ask them to leave, he added.
“Our job is to make sure everybody has a good time and that they stay safe,” DuPree said.login to post comments