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YOU MAKE THE CALL: Was traffic stop of city employee handled properly?

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Often in newsrooms there are stories that lead to debate: Is it news or not? Will viewers want to see it, or should they see it all?

Tonight, we ask you to be the judge.

After getting a tip about a traffic stop this week in Wilmington involving a city employee, we started to dig.

Here are the facts: Monday morning Ofc. Robert Pearce (Call sign 250) initiated a traffic stop for speeding in the 600 block of Market Street. We also know the SUV driven by Roger Johnson, Assistant to the City Manager for Development, did not stop until reaching a parking lot on Chestnut Street about six blocks away.

So we'd like you to watch the full dashcam video (click on the video above) from Ofc. Pearce's car and let us know what you think.

We talked with Johnson yesterday. He would not go on camera, but said he was pulling into a lot where he normally parks because it was safe. He said he did not believe his position with the city helped him get out of the ticket.

City Manager Sterling Cheatham told us he had heard "something about it," but could not to speak to the situation, because he did not know all the facts, other than that Johnson had been very apologetic.

We also asked Police Chief Ralph Evangelous about what happened.

"It was probably three blocks, and he was speeding it looks like. Roger was extremely apologetic, and he has apologized to the officer, and the officer is doing his job out there, and he tried to make that traffic stop. He went about three blocks, from what I can determine from the video, into the parking lot," Evangelous said.

"We have, officers have discretion every day. They don't give tickets out to everybody that they stop. They have the discretion to give verbal warnings, written warnings, or whatever, so... Officers do that on a regular basis."

New Hanover County Dispatch says Ofc. Pearce cleared the call through the computer in his car. The dispatch Event Report shows he closed it with a verbal warning.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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3% bonus

He probably was one of the city employees who recieved a 3% bonus.

One Certainty

One thing you can count on with all of this publicity...is that 'ol Roger here has royally screwed things up for the rest of us looking to get a free pass!

WWAY needs a life

Maybe WWAY can go down to where the real crime is and see what officers confront each day an dnight with crime. Your news is always 48hrs too late making it old news. This is no breaking news on one traffic stop a veteran officer made on a particular day. Go in the hood and report some real news...make sure you wear a diaper.

Sunshine

When they start attacking the messenger rather than the message, then the media is doing its job. Sunshine is a great disinfectant. Shine on WWAY.

idiots

Three blocks my ass. I counted at least five. Dumb ass police chief can't even count. So damn glad I finally left this god forsaken state. Don't just lie to my face that special treatment wasn't given here.

City Cops

The Chief of Police said his Officers have discretionary power about writing a ticket. I wonder if that was not a government employee would it have been handled differently. I think so. If that had just been Joe Blow he would have been arrested. WOW I guess all government is DIRTY!!

Lots of opinions have been

Lots of opinions have been expressed about whether Mr. Johnson acted appropriately, as well as did the officer. The story asks should this type of story be published. Seems like the real question has been lost here. To answer the question WWAY is asking, yes, I think these types of stories should be made public. It is the job of the news agencies, whether printed or spoken, to bring such as this to the attention of the citizens. 90% of the ones who are familiar with this story would have never heard about it had WWAY not informed us. I say that you're doing a pretty good job letting us know what is going on locally, and I for one am glad you do. Keep up the good work exposing the good as well as the bad that our taxpayer-paid officials are doing.

WWAY--Really????

I think it must a super slow news day when you waste time with reporting stuff like this. Absolutely ridiculous. If you for one second think that a everytime a police officer stops someone they should write them a ticket, you're crazy. It doesn't happen. If that did happen, then you would be reporting about how overcrowded our courts are and how ridiculous it is that so many tickets are written. Make up your mind, do you want enforcement or not? I'm sure someone at WWAY is on the bitter bus because he didn't get out of his when he disobeyed the police orders during the parade and took a ride to jail. You should be ashamed of yourself, WWAY, seriously nothing better that a gossip rag.
Why don't you use your power for good instead of trying to stir up a crap story that isn't there?

You try it

Next time you are pulled over, you do the exact same thing roger did and let us know how that works out for you. You continue driving until you reached your employee parking lot and then quickly exit the vehicle with the comment you are late for a meeting. Don't provide your license or insurance and then leave the scene.

guesty, you are RIGHT.

guesty, you are RIGHT. Absolutely, unquestioningly, unequivocally and positively RIGHT.

Traffic enforcement is a joke

I am sure the police Chief does not allow his offices to enforce the traffic laws and the people of this City knows that. I have watched as people run (and I mean run) traffic lights with Police Officers at the light and the Officer does nothing. Carolina Beach Road is a raceway with people speeding and zigzagging in and out of traffic. I am so tired of people riding my bumper because the speed limit I am following isn’t fast enough for them.

However, when they do decide to work traffic why is it always on MLK Parkway?

It is time the City does something about this. If it takes replacing the Chief of Police they have my vote to do so.

"Riding My Bumper"

You may not be "that person" who thinks that they can get in the left, travel, lane and drive like you own it while there are fifteen vehicles behind you, wanting to get around. If you are "that person"......... MOVE OVER!!!!!

North Carolina General Statue 20-146 says (among other things) that you can't drive in the left, travel, lane in a manner as to impede the flow of traffic and if your speed is slower than the "normal speed of traffic" you "SHALL drive in the right hand lane...."

Again, if you are not "that person" i apologize for replying to your post. But if just ONE of them sees this post and realizes that what they are doing (backing up traffic in the inside lane) is wrong, perhaps the flow of traffic in this town would not be so freaking insane.

Wilmington Observer

Not very observant

You must not have observed NC G.S. 20-141 which states "(a) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway or in a public vehicular area at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. (b) Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, it shall be unlawful to operate a vehicle in excess of the following speeds: (1) Thirty-five miles per hour inside municipal corporate limits for all vehicles. (2) Fifty-five miles per hour outside municipal corporate limits for all vehicles except for school buses and school activity buses." and then goes on to give local municipalities to lower the speed limits as they see fit.
NC G.S. 20-146 (b) states "Upon all highways any vehicle proceeding at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn.", not "normal speed of traffic".
Hopefully if just one of the numerous speed demon want-to-be race car drivers sees this they will realize that what they are doing is breaking the law. It's called a speed limit, not a speed suggestion and if them doing 45 in the left lane all the way down College road makes you mad, oh well, what they're doing is perfectly legal, everybody else is breaking the law by speeding.

I know this doesn't really

I know this doesn't really pertain to the original story, but "Left Lane Bandits" get my ire up as well. Something I should point out to them alongside your excellent posting of GS 20-146 is that only police cruisers are equipped with a certified speedometer from the manufacturer, the ordinary vehicles we drive may be off a few percent (and be within manufacturer's specifications). If yours is 3MPH high at 50 and mine is 3 MPH low we have a 6 MPH closing rate while we both show an indicated 50. I'm going to think you're a LLB, and you'll think I'm a habitual speeder but in reality neither of us is right (or wrong). For those that camp in the left lane going the speed limit.. well guess what, you may NOT be in actuality so please do us a favor and move over instead of being a rolling roadblock.

Wilmington observer

No, I don't drive in the left hand lane when I am doing the speed limit. The problem is people like you who wants to fly down the road and think getting on someone's bumper will make them drive faster.

The point everyone misses that if you drive 10 mph over the speed limit you go 10 mile further in a hour. Not very far in the city.

"Riding my Bumper"

That statue still does not give one the right to exceed the posted speed limit. Having said that, drivers still should move over and allow traffic to flow unimpeded.

You don't impede traffic if

You don't impede traffic if you are driving the speed limit.

"You don't impede traffic if you are driving the speed limit"...

(In Wilmington you will)

The thing that I find the

The thing that I find the most shocking is that even after the officer followed him for multiple blocks, bumped the siren, and cussed at the guy repeatedly to pull over...the guy just pulls into a parking spot and hops out of the car; that's crazy. I'm pretty sure from watching a LOT of "Cops" on TV that if a vehicle takes that long to pull over and then the driver just hops out of the car, they'd probably draw their gun on you, or at the VERY least, yell at you to stay in your car. This officer just let the guy hop out and start getting his stuff out of his car.

I think if this guy hadn't gone all the way to the City parking lot and instead just drove 6 blocks, pulled into a Walmart parking lot or something, parked, and hopped out, this would have gone differently. I think the officer was being cautious once he realized that maybe this was someone "important". And I get that, you don't want to be unnecessarily forceful or anything, especially with someone that could potentially have influence with your boss, but at the same time, a proper amount of caution should have been used when dealing with this guy and he really should have made him stay in the vehicle while he asked him a few questions like "why did you take so long to pull over?" and then maybe after all that, you let him off with a warning.

It makes me sad more than mad. This officer may be a great cop but from JUST this video he seems a bid too timid to be a police officer.

Good Point

What if the driver who "jumped out" turned out to be Brian Berger?

Wilmington Observer

"What if the driver who "jumped out" turned out to be.........

"What if the driver who "jumped out" turned out to be Brian Berger?"

Or better yet...the Mayor and Chief of Pole Lease heading for a T time at the golf course?

Landmarks avail

I've been refered to as a 10year Histortic Wilmington landmark, but would never disrespect Ofc. Robert "whose your Daddy" Pearce, let alone, allow, as an officer of the law, or as we see the lack thereof, from a wasteful,ignorant and disrespectful city Of Wilm.,NC employee.....Or, as a Wilmington employee I would! This town expects our lack of police to ingnore stupid city representitives , straight thru to assist city managers....if that's who that man really was!

verbal what?

I just watched the video again and could not hear any verbal warning or a warning of any kind given on the video.That makes the report the officer closed false and should be addressed to correct this issue.Can you say False report?? IM sorry.. Im sorry ...ok that makes it ok really? never worked for me.

He muted the mic pack

The video recorders in the police cars have two audio sources. The mic in the car, which is picking up the radio traffic, and the background noise when after he got out. The other source is the mic pack. That's where you hear him talking while he's out of the car. It appears he muted the mic pack just as he reached the silver car. He unmuted just before "Alright...." The in car mic remaining active is why you don't hear dead silence, but you can hear a click at the mute / unmute points. You can see, but not hear him talking during the muted section. Cops know when to mute in situations like this. This is the edited version of the stop. Unfortunately, there is no unedited version.

Mr. Johnson is lucky that the cop recognized who he was stopping. You can be sure that the stop - the delayed stop, at that - would have been handled much differently.

You

If you had driven that far without stopping you would have had 20 police cars on you and maybe a swat team.Had you not driven into a city parking lot you would have been screamed at maybe slapped around thrown on the ground possibly beat handcuffed and licked by 3 or 4 K9 dogs before being hauled straight to jail.What a joke this guy knew if he made it to the city parking lot he would get off. He never even acknowledged the police officers questions he just hurried off to do his own thing WOW!

Break it down

Remove all names and titles:
Cop sees person speeding
Cop stops person speeding
Cop gives warning and let's the person go.

This is totally within the realm of the officers duty - to use his judgement as to whether or not to issue a ticket. This situation happens day in and day out.

Then watch the video if you wish (Hint - I did not).

The "only" party at fault here is WWAY. They took a routine traffic stop and tried to "National Enquirer" it into a news story of perceived importance under the guise of we the readers being the judge.
Yes - a drunk city official, speeding - that's totally different and poses FAR greater danger to the community. We've seen that in the FD just recently. That is news.
This ranks right up there with Scott driving his car out of the parking lot during a parade.
Good Grief
Vog

Vog, In all your travels and

Vog,

In all your travels and experiences I do not think you have ever pulled over a vehicle. The officer needs to verify 10-27 DL info, 10-28 vehicle info, 10-29 wanted persons info. I believe officer only called in 10-28. That whole stop could really have come back to bite him in the butt. Totally improper!! Nothing wrong in letting him go, just the way it all happened.

Look

I have never pulled a car over but I certainly think that the act of pulling over a vehicle is one of the single most dangerous things a cop can do. He's typically alone, on a street with other traffic and walking up to a vehicle that could be occupied by people meaning to inflict great harm on him.
Was the stop improper? I'm not gonna judge that.
If the cop was within his authority to let the guy go, then so be it. Chief Evangelous has apparently NOT disciplined the officer because there's nothing to discipline him for apparently.
My God folks - when are we going to support our police officers? There's enough of them doing stupid things and we're concerned about this incident?
I can't wait or WWAY to let this story slide to the back pages...

Vog

Left out something

From Vog:
"Remove all names and titles:
Cop sees person speeding
Cop stops person speeding
Cop gives warning and let's the person go."

You left out where the driver had many opportunities to pull over but continued on his way to ensure he was in a city parking lot before stopping. And then for him to jump out of his car? You try that next time you are pulled over and see if you don't have either a taser or gun pointed at you.

Maybe you should watch the video before you spout off. Nothing like commenting on an topic when you don't know all the facts that are available.

guesty

The rule of thumb has always been pull over when the DRIVER deems it safe. A cop will not get out of a car if there's a danger to him, the public or the other vehicle and he will use a loudspeaker to tell you to pull off in the next parking lot etc etc.....
To me if this is what he driver did then he's OK in my mind and the cop was well within his right to let him off with a warning.
I really don't give a damn whats on the video. The cop has the discretion - he used it and let the guy go.
If you want iron clad rules the talk to your local legislator.
I for one have never gotten off - I always seem to get the ticket. Last one I got was 20 years ago. I learned my lesson.
WWAY is making a mountain out of a mole hill.
This is not news
The cop acted appropriately and within the parameters of his job.
It makes NO difference if the guy was asst city manager, the Pope me or the janitor at city hall the cop had the authority to do what he did in etting the guy off.

Vog