Statement From Bannister Re: GBI Report On His Phony DUI Arrest.

From the AJC.

“I appreciate the quick attention the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney Danny Porter gave to the investigation of the occurrences leading up to my improper arrest for DUI on June 28, 2010. Although I knew that I would be exonerated of all charges arising from the arrest, I remain concerned about the circumstances which led to the false allegations made against me, particularly with the detailed arrest report authorized by Deputy Cummings. In light of the truth, it is clear that the Sheriff’s Department’s arrest report was designed solely to embarrass me and my family. Had I not submitted to the State-administered breath/blood test, I likely would have been wrongfully convicted of DUI based upon a false report.

“I am deeply disappointed in Sheriff Conway’s response to the GBI report, which clearly exposes the irregular procedures, questionable motive, poor judgment and discrepancies in the statement of those individuals involved in my arrest. Rather than taking appropriate action against those who are responsible for this debacle, the Sheriff plans to use hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to buy equipment and train staff to perform tasks outside of his department’s constitutional functions.

“Announcing further training and additional expenditures does not address the Sheriff’s Department’s misuse of arrest powers to harass and attempt to wrongly convict an individual. The Sheriff’s actions and his response do not assure me that something like this will not happen again to me, my family or other citizens of Gwinnett County. I continue to seek those assurances.”

12 comments

  1. AubieTurtle says:

    Did it ever come out who made the phone call that started this whole mess? It would be interesting to know if it was a random person who saw a county vehicle park at a bar and called it in or if someone was gunning for Bannister.

    In regards to one of the other threads, the 0.000 reading is weird. From what I was able to find out online, if an average person is at 0.080, it would take at least five hours before they got to 0.000. Of course everyone is different and his two or three beers might not have put him at 0.080 but still blowing a total goose egg seems odd. Guess it’s just another mystery in the whole saga.

    • Aubie,

      From the Gwinnett Daily Post article on the GBI report:

      The customer who reported Bannister, David Nesmith, called his ex-wife’s husband, Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Robert Taromina, because he knew no other law enforcement personnel. Nesmith claimed in interviews he was concerned Bannister was violating county policy by drinking three or four beers, not that he appeared too intoxicated to drive.

      And this re: Bannister’s alcohol reading:

      GBI crime lab scientist Kasey Wilson told investigators someone weighing as much as Bannister (190 pounds) could metabolize up to three 10 oz. beers in the timespan between his alleged last drink and the negative blood test. A chronic drinker may metabolize alcohol faster, Wilson said.

      • Steve says:

        Yup. A random person believed that politicians NEVER consume three beers in a sitting, as that is “against policy”. So it’s logical for him to call the guy now nailing his former spouse… because that stud is a corporal at the Sheriff’s Dept., the first place you call when “policy” is violated. And of course, what corporal at the Sheriff’s Dept. doesn’t have authority to spontaneously setup a 4-man stakeout on the County Commission Chairman without the Sheriff’s knowledge?

        Open and shut. Nothing more to see here, folks… move along!

  2. Atticus Grinch says:

    I think this is yet another example of abusive conduct by the police that most of the GOP faithful cherish and back to the hilt (despite their disdain of other governmental agencies and their supposed support of personal freedom and limited government). However, I am still puzzled as to why Bannister ( who admitted he had a couple of Bud Lights) registered a 0.00 on the blood test. It makes me question the validity of his test on the one hand or the validity of all such tests on the other.

  3. hannah says:

    Yes, the tests are questionable and so is the chain of custody of the information. Much of the training we subsidize for our law enforcement personnel aims to teach them how not to incriminate themselves and how to protect the department (and their insurance carrier) from adverse judgments in court. Police reports, I am more and more convinced, are intentionally sloppy and inaccurate because, while police officers have qualified immunity, the prosecutor who decides to file charges and go forward or strike a deal is assumed to have total immunity, based on no personal involvement (ambition doesn’t count). So, the errors in police reports give him/her leeway to make an “objective” determination about what would be just. Failure has all kinds of beneficial consequences. Subordinates messing up give superiors an opportunity to shine.

  4. BJ Van Gundy says:

    Steve. Good points about the “random” person issue as well as the authority issue regarding the setting up of such a sting.

    Something else that was done by the Sheriff’s department that I found questionable was that this same little group of SuperCops (NOT) had decided to go into this same restaurant back in February and interview the employees about Bannister’s tab at that time…

    There was no active “investigation” open at the time or any reason for the interviews. They just, supposedly, took it upon themselves to go in and interview restaurant employees regarding a patron’s consumption. How “random” was this whole thing now? This entire situation fits the definition of a “WITCH HUNT” in the classical definition! Build evidence that you create and then use it against the target.

    The SD claims that the February interviews somehow are proof that Bannister had a problem in the past…. but there was no “problem”. It was the Department working to CREATE evidence to bolster a case at a later time…. Read about the Salem Witch Trials and see if this doesn’t all sound familiar….

    If the Sheriff wasn’t directly involved in the decision to do the interviews in February and, as is claimed now by the Sheriff, wasn’t directing the actions of Deputies at the time of the arrest, it points to a Sheriff’s department that isn’t being run by the Sheriff and that individual Deputies are simply allowed to run around doing whatever they want to.

    If the Sheriff WAS directly involved in the decisions above, it points to a Sheriff that is taking out political vendettas against other elected officials.

    SO! The bottom line question is:

    Was this a politically motivated abuse of power by the Sheriff OR is the Sheriff not in control of his own department and Deputies are simply allowed to run around carrying out their own personal vendettas with cover by the Sheriff when it is found out?

    …. And don’t get me started on the Sheriff now saying that he is going to spend 100s of 1000s of $$$$ now to make sure that his deputies are retrained in DUI policy and to get equipment for his cars so that video can be taken, etc….. THE BANNISTER ARREST WAS ONLY THE 7th DUI ARREST FOR THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT in 2010! And a bad one at that! DO WE REALLY want the Sheriff’s department even doing DUI arrests… unless they are incredibly obvious?

    How about the DUI arrests be left to the Gwinnett Police Department (Who do ~2000 a year instead of ~13 a year!)?

    And I didn’t even go into the fact that the Deputy that made the arrest also was chased off from the Gwinnett PD for having made bad calls in the past regarding DUIs! He even testified against his own PD about a DUI arrest of a relative/friend that blew a .16 and let a woman go at a DUI stop that then went down the street and caused an accident 1 mile or so away and was described by that arresting officer as obviously drunk…

    Deputy Cummings is a joke of an officer and should be dismissed for incompetence…

    I’m just saying.

    • B Balz says:

      Good job, BJ, your boss [Mr. Bannister] deserves nothing less from his highly compensated consultants. This is your third post on this matter, all of them, first rate.

  5. BJ Van Gundy says:

    @ B Balz,

    FYI. Bannister is in no way my “boss”. Also, I’m not “highly compensated” for anything by the Chairman. I am but a friend.

    My total compensation for having been the Chairman’s friend and campaign helper runs in the negative dollar values… easily 4 digits… not the opposite.

    Thanks for what I think was a tongue in cheek compliment….

    BJ

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