A Collegedale, Tennessee, police officer stopped a Chattanooga officer one rainy summer night on suspicion of DUI. But instead of arresting him, he extended "professional courtesy" and drove him home.
The Times Free Press is not identifying the Chattanooga officer because he was not criminally charged, and because of a lack of documentation, a Chattanooga Police Department internal affairs investigation could not find a preponderance of evidence to prove his level of intoxication was, in fact, above the legal limit.
On July 10, the Chattanooga officer was driving home from a night out with his girlfriend on his motorcycle. It was raining. When the couple reached a stop sign at the intersection of Edgmon and Tallant roads, the bike lost traction and caused him to lose his balance. He, his girlfriend and the bike all fell over onto the ground, according to Chattanooga internal affairs records.
His girlfriend, who was intoxicated, became upset and refused to get back on the motorcycle. So the officer drove home and came back to pick her up with his pickup truck. That's when Collegedale Sgt. Burlon "Scooter" Hayworth stopped him.
"The driver is [drunk]," Hayworth is heard telling dispatchers, according to his body camera footage.
After talking to the girlfriend, Hayworth then asks the Chattanooga officer to step out of the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test, but the officer stalls.
"I'm trying to work with you a little bit," he tells him. "But you're tying my hands."
"You both have alcohol coming off your breath — You been doing this job long enough, you know what I'm getting at," Hayworth continues. "I'm all about the brotherhood, but look what drinking and driving does."
"Exactly. I know," the Chattanooga officer responds.
"I take that blue line s--- serious," Hayworth says. "I really do. I'm one of the few young guys that takes that s--- serious. And I promise you'll never find a more professional guy. But, you know, you coulda got yourself killed tonight."
Hayworth tells the officer he will arrest him if he doesn't agree to a field sobriety test. After several minutes of stalling, the Chattanooga officer finally agrees.
Once the field sobriety test is complete, Hayworth's body camera is cut off.
According to Collegedale Police Department policy, officers are allowed to mute audio but only when they are not in direct contact with citizens. It does not state whether officers are permitted to shut the camera off completely while speaking officer-to-officer.
The Chattanooga Police Department declined to comment.
Collegedale police spokeswoman Bridgett Raper, Chief Brian Hickman and Hayworth did not return multiple requests for comment or respond to questions about why Hayworth drove the officer home instead of arresting him, why the body camera footage was cut off, why Hayworth didn't document the incident or whether he was under internal investigation.
THE CHATTANOOGA INVESTIGATION
Chattanooga's internal affairs investigators found that "self-proclaimed 'DUI expert' Hayworth did not make any notes of his observations. He also did not complete any reports related to the incident." And his body camera was "low video quality, and offered little value to observation of [the officer's] performance on [the field sobriety test].
"There were also multiple times in which Hayworth appeared to deactivate the recording for unknown reasons."
Without the documentation, investigators had to rely on testimony by Hayworth and the Chattanooga police officer.
The Chattanooga officer told investigators he was "not at all" intoxicated. And he explained his initial lack of cooperation with Hayworth on "a lot of animosity between me and Collegedale."
The officer said he had one drink — a vodka and water — earlier in the evening, but several hours had already passed.
Hayworth told Chattanooga investigators that, based on some "cues," including a "guilty look," he believed the officer was, in fact, intoxicated beyond the legal limit at the time of the stop, according to Chattanooga police internal affairs documents.
But despite Hayworth claiming DUI was his "forte," he told Chattanooga investigators he stands behind his decision to not arrest the Chattanooga officer.
"I've done DUIs enough," Hayworth told investigators. "I mean, this is no pat on the back — I'm the highest level of [drug recognition expert.]"
But, Hayworth said, it wouldn't have been worth the trouble of an arrest because, by the time he got a warrant to test the officer's blood alcohol level, his level of intoxication would have been under the legal limit.
"So by the time I took my time, we just called his dad. Told him to come get the truck, 'cause I didn't wanna carry that risk, even though it was less than a mile away. It was his house. I wasn't going to carry that liability, so I took him home."
But Hayworth still wanted the officer to "take a bite out of this s--- sandwich," Hayworth said. So he told the officer he was going to call his supervisors.
And he did call. He asked them to respond to the scene.
Sgt. Reginald Parks was on duty that night and notified Chattanooga's night watch commander.
"He told me that [Chattanooga was] cool with whatever decision [Collegedale] decided to make, whether they decide to charge him or let him go, but we weren't going to send anybody out there," Parks told internal investigators.
Hayworth admitted to Chattanooga investigators that he gave the officer more time to agree to a field sobriety test than he would a regular citizen. And that, had he arrested him right away, the officer likely would have been intoxicated beyond the legal limit.
"To be honest, it was my first time doing, you know, having to be stuck in the world of professional courtesy," Hayworth told investigators.
Ultimately, the stop turned into a warning, he said, and "we don't do any kind of reports on a warning stop."
However, Collegedale officers were directed, as early as 2015, to "not issue Verbal Warnings, and to issue Written Warnings as a minimum" because "verbal warnings do nothing for our yearly stats," according to records obtained by the Times Free Press.
Additionally, Collegedale's daily report log only shows the incident as a property damage call in which the "motorcycle owner declined a report due to minor damage."
Because of that lack of documentation, "the question of [the officer's] level of impairment, on the date in question, comes down to conflicting positions between Hayworth and [the officer]," according to a Chattanooga internal investigation summary report.
Hayworth, who was just recently promoted to sergeant, has been praised for the number of DUI and drug arrests he's made. In mid-2019, he was complimented by supervisors for "accounting for over three times the number of such arrests" compared to any other officer, according to internal records.
His high productivity has been noted when supervisors considered disciplinary problems, such as wrongful pursuits, not completing proper documentation, speeding or texting while driving. None of the disciplinary issues, which included nearly hitting an off-duty state trooper's personal vehicle while speeding in 2016, are known to have triggered an internal investigation.
"The chief would authorize an internal affairs investigation, if needed," said Collegedale's human resources manager Kristen Boyd.
How the chief decides when an investigation is needed, however, is not clear, and the department has not responded to repeated questions about how its internal affairs process works.