Charleston chief: Call to 911 saying DOT chief Wriston was driving erratically not true

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston may have been the victim of a set-up.

Scott Dempsey

Charleston Police Chief Scott Dempsey said Wednesday afternoon that both internal and external investigations are continuing in connection with a traffic stop involving Wriston on Interstate 77 just south of the state capitol on Tuesday night, Feb. 20.

Wriston was stopped after a person, who identified as an off-duty trooper, called Kanawha County Metro 911 and said they were behind a motorist on Charleston’s East End and the driver was driving erratically including running up on a curb and running a stop sign. Dempsey said Wednesday the investigation has concluded that wasn’t true.

“As of today, we have determined that information relayed to CPD regarding Mr. Wriston driving erratically does not appear to be accurate or truthful,” Dempsey said.

Police previously determined the person who made the call was not an off-duty trooper.

Jimmy Wriston

The information has been turned over to Kanawha County prosecutors for consideration of possible charges.

Several media outlets received an anonymous email with photos and a video the morning after the traffic stop.

Dempsey also said an internal investigation into how officers conducted the traffic stop is also continuing. Dempsey said Wriston smelled of alcohol but passed two field sobriety tests. He was also given a preliminary breath test, according to the chief.

“CPD Officers on the scene believed that the test was inconclusive and inconsistent with other tests being performed that Mr. Wriston passed. In addition, the lack of evidence Mr. Wriston was driving erratically, and lack of information received from the 911 caller, led CPD Officers not to charge Mr. Wriston,” Dempsey said.

Wriston was allowed to call a friend who came and picked him up.

Dempsey said the department is still investigating whether officers followed CPD’s body camera policy.

Gov. Jim Justice expressed disappointment in the entire situation during his media briefing earlier Wednesday.

“How does Jim Justice feel? He’s very concerned,” Justice said. “And how Jim Justice feels–is probably disappointed.”





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