FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: As HP investigation nears end, a look at differing stories
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s been more than a week since WWAY broke the story involving a Raleigh couple who accused two Highway Patrol troopers of crossing the line. The Highway Patrol says an internal investigation underway since the allegations came to light will soon come to a close.
Gina and Hoyt Tessener claimed troopers Edward Wyrick and Andrew Smith bullied them during a visit to the coast for a conference. Documents, recording and other information released since we broke the story give us a closer look at the many discrepancies in the different versions of the story.
The story starts with a long letter attorney Hoyt Tessener sent to Gov. Bev Perdue and more than a dozen other political heavyweights. The letter tells the Tesseners’ account of an incident on June 21 into June 22, when Hoyt’s wife Gina was pulled over near Wrightsville Beach as she left a gala in downtown Wilmington.
The Tesseners say Tpr. Wyrick pulled the mother of three over because he said a headlight on her Lexus sedan was out. A photo they provided shows the headlight working.
“He then turns to me and says, ‘I smell alcohol on your breath,'” Gina Tessener said in her first TV interview June 28.
The Tesseners claimed in the letter and on camera that Gina did not have anything to drink that night.
“I didn’t drink,” she said in our interview.
But a DWI report says she told Wyrick she sipped a glass of wine.
The Tesseners claim the trooper then asked Gina to perform a field sobriety test. Gina was uncomfortable with his request due to the circumstances.
“I was in a cocktail dress,” she said. “I had high heels on.”
The Tesseners also claimed gina was in gravel lot, but Wyrick’s DWI report says the stop was in a paved hotel lot.
After refusing the field tests, Gina wound up in cuffs and on her way to the Wrightsville Beach Police Department to take a breath test.
The Tesseners’ letter claims that at the police station Wyrick allowed Gina one phone call and remained within inches of her as she called her husband. Vvideo from the police station shows a much different scene.
“You can make all the phone calls you want,” Wyrick said as he handed Tessener her phone. “If you have any questions, ask me.”
After Hoyt arrived, Gina passed two breath test, blowing a 0.00 each time.
“It was at this point where he became angry,” Gina Tessener said.
Hoyt told us, “He did the second one and told us to leave for that one, and Gina left to the other room, and I didn’t. I stood exactly where I was, and he came up and put his chest within an inch of my shoulder telling me to leave.”
Again, the video tells a different story. Wyrick told the Tesseners to leave after the result showed up and did not get as close to Hoyt Tessener as the couple said.
Matthew Ragone was also in the intake area on a DWI charge. Despite blowing more than twice the legal limit, Ragone said in an exclusive interview with WWAY that Wyrick stayed calm the entire time.
“The officer himself kept his cool pretty well, asked the man multiple times to please calm down,” Ragone said.
You can also see Gina walking around. Though Wyrick noted in his report that she was unsteady on her feet, she does not appear to be unstable on her high heels.
As the night of June 21 turned into the morning of June 22 the Wrightsville Beach Police Department video shows Gina Tessener still in custody. The Tesseners say it was at this time that they saw Tpr. Wyrick texting on his phone. Seventeen minutes later, Wyrick and Gina head to the New Hanover County Jail to see a magistrate.
Hoyt Tessener says he was following Wyrick, when another trooper, Andrew Smith, pulled him over for speeding. The Tesseners think the whole thing was a set-up organized by text message.
Tuesday the Highway Patrol released text messages between the two troopers prior to Hoyt’s run-in with Smith. There’s nothing suggesting a set-up; just an account of what Wyrick was going through with the Tessesners. Tpr. Smith, though, responded to the message saying “f*** her and f*** him.”
After Smith let Hoyt Tessener go with a warning, computer messages between the troopers’ cruisers show that while Wyrick was on the way to the jail he received this message from smith: “Tell him if he wants to cop an attitude to feel free and come back ill stroke him that speed.”
Two minutes later and before Wyrick arrived at the jail he sent this back to Smith “How fast,” with Smith replying, “58.”
The Tesseners say once at the jail Gina faced a rude magistrate, who told her she’s “one of those who thinks you’re better than everybody else.” The video of her hearing with the magistrate does not have audio. You can see the magistrate and Gina talking to one another.
We contacted the Highway Patrol today, but there’s still no comment. A spokesman did say, though, the patrol is in the final stages of the investigation, which should wrap up very soon.
Meanwhile Hoyt Tessener is scheduled to be in court in Raleigh tomorrow morning for allegedly punching a bar manager in the face back in December. The Tesseners have not returned our calls for comment since our interview last week.