Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman dismissed more than 100 DWI cases on Wednesday after a sheriff's deputy was found to have lied on the stand.
Freeman’s actions came after District Court Judge Jacqueline Brewer disqualified Wake sheriff’s deputy Robert Davis, a member of the DWI Task Force, as a witness.
Freeman said because Davis had been untruthful in some cases that he was no longer competent to testify in any of them. Davis, who worked at the sheriff’s department for 15 years, was fired last week by Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
In an order attached to one of the cases in which Brewer disqualified Davis as a witness, the judge outlined three incidents in which he made false statements on court documents and on the witness stand.
One incident stemmed from the case of a woman stopped for DWI on Aug. 2, 2014. Davis took her to the Wake Forest Police Department, where machines were set up for breath tests. The intoxilyzer room also had audio and video recording equipment.
Under the DWI law, a driver may refuse to take any test, but if that happens the state revokes the driver’s license for a year. The driver may also call an attorney for advice or a witness to monitor the test, but testing cannot be delayed for more than 30 minutes.
Davis, according to the judge’s order, did not give the driver the full time to contact a witness before recording her as not requesting one. When the driver still had questions about the breath test, the deputy marked her as refusing to take it and filed paperwork with the state Division of Motor Vehicles stating that she had refused to take the test. That meant her license would be automatically revoked for a year.
DMV sent a notice to the woman that her license was going to be revoked for a year, and she asked for a hearing that was set for March 4, 2015. That hearing revealed conflicts between Davis’ assertion that the driver never asked for a witness and her testimony that she tried to call someone but could not get an outside line. It also showed Davis pushing her to take the test, though her full 30 minutes had not been exhausted, according to the court order.
On Feb. 22, 2014, Davis made similar claims after stopping a woman for driving while impaired. At that stop, according to the judge’s order, Davis fired a Taser stun gun twice at the driver.
Davis’ supervisor then arrived at the scene and followed the deputy to the Wake County Detention Center, where more testing was to occur. The supervisor made notes at the detention center while Davis proceeded to advise the driver of the testing procedures. The driver made a phone call to her attorney, but did not get a full 30 minutes after that call before the deputy proceeded with testing, according to the judge’s order.
Not only did Davis wrongly record that the driver had not made a phone call, according to the court documents, he also marked her as refusing to take the test.
In March 2015, Davis again stopped a woman for DWI and wrongly noted her attempts to contact someone to witness her take the breath test. When she questioned why she had not been allotted the full 30 minutes for a witness to watch her take the test, Davis again marked her as refusing to take the test, according to Brewer’s court order.
Harrison said he fired Davis the day he received a copy of Brewer’s order.
“I hate it, but we’ve got our credibility to look after, too,” Harrison said Thursday.
Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald contributed to this report.