ABC11 Investigates

Commission rules for man stopped by trooper

Monday, August 06, 2012

The State Highway Patrol could be forced to pay thousands of dollars for a traffic stop involving a man who rushed his sick wife to the hospital.

The man filed a civil lawsuit against the Highway Patrol through the state's Industrial Commission. In a ruling the commission handed down last month, the state was ordered to pay more than $16,000.

Dick Bernhardt admitted he was speeding and that he drove through several red lights on June 17, 2007. He was taking his cancer-stricken wife to Craven Regional Medical Center after she became sick in the middle of the night.

Trooper Matthew Cape spotted Bernhardt and followed him to the hospital where things quickly escalated as the trooper arrested Bernhardt. Cape said Bernhardt assaulted him.

Bernhardt ended up with a dislocated elbow. He felt the trooper's actions were unreasonable. So did commissioners who ruled in Bernhardt's favor.

"I hope it makes… It causes a reaction in the Highway Patrol to say, 'Hey maybe we need to retrain these fells or find therapy for officers,'" said Bernhardt.

Bernhardt admitted that he had had a few drinks before going to bed that night. He was charged with DWI and assault but those charges were eventually dismissed.

Attorneys for the state are reviewing the commission's ruling. They have 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

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