published Monday, May 21st, 2012

UPDATE: East Ridge Police officer fired after pleading guilty to leaving scene of accident

An East Ridge police officer was fired today after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident last month, according to East Ridge officials.

Sean Merriman, an officer with the department for seven years, wrecked his 2004 Jeep Cherokee while driving to his Middle Valley home the night of April 30. He took out a mailbox, flower bed and collided with a parked Chevrolet S10 pickup on Blue Spruce Drive.

Merriman admitted to being behind the wheel, but blood was never drawn to determine if he was over the legal limit for alcohol, said Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Brian Lockhart.

The internal affairs investigation also showed that Merriman failed to respond to investigating officers knocking on his door soon after the accident, even though they knocked loud enough to wake neighbors, according to a statement released today from East Ridge Police Chief Eddie Phillips.

Merriman also gave misleading statements to investigators, Phillips said, by telling a Hamilton County traffic investigator he had not been drinking, then telling internal affairs investigators he had been drinking some time before the crash but insisting he was not impaired at time.

Merriman pleaded to the misdemeanor in exchange for judicial diversion in Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Christie Mahn Sell’s courtroom. Under diversion, he must pay court costs and, at the end of 30 days, the incident will be expunged from his record.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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