Did the Lewis County sheriff let DUI suspect go home?

Photo: WKRN

LEWIS COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Did the Lewis County sheriff let a DUI suspect go home instead of jail?

That question was at the heart of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation earlier this year after the district attorney general requested an investigation.

The DUI stop was caught on Hohenwald police body cam and it shows in detail about what happened on the night of July 30.

The video picks up a short time after Lewis County Deputy Kalem Halfacre witnessed a red car hit a Jeep in what is described as a minor fender bender.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

The body cam documents the scene as the deputy puts the driver of the red car through a field sobriety test, which Halfacre says the woman failed.

When Deputy Halfacre asks the woman to submit a blood test, she refuses, saying she is “tired” and has had “a rough day.”

She also admits to drinking two glasses of wine on an empty stomach, as she repeatedly tells officers that she is tired, not drunk.

The deputy goes on to say, “As of right now, I’m charging you with DUI, so you refuse?”

The woman then asks if the deputy plans to do a breathalyzer, to which he replies, “We don’t have those here. The field sobriety was probable enough cause to charge you with it and you did hit that vehicle right there, and you did admit to me you have been drinking.”

The woman continues to maintain that she is just tired and not drunk, adding that she is taking a new medicine that makes her dizzy, and in fact, it made her fall down the day before.

“Plus, I have witnesses that the new medication they put me on has made me trip over stuff. I’m dizzy. I fell yesterday over a bench and flipped,” she said.

The deputy allowed the DUI suspect to make a phone call to have someone come and get her car. The woman calls Lewis County Sheriff Dwayne Kilpatrick, addressing him by the nickname “Draino.”

“Hey, Draino,” she is heard saying. “I’ve been real upset. I went to the bar, had two glasses of wine, was looking down at something and hit the top of a Jeep. The people in the Jeep said it is no problem. I’m not drunk, but I won’t do a blood test.”

She then is heard asking the responding deputy what is name is before saying, “I am two minutes from my driveway. I’m not drunk. I’m just upset. Ok, thank you.”

The woman then hands the cell phone with the sheriff still on the line back to Deputy Halfacre who walks away from the body cam.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

So, what happened after the body cam turned off? According to Hohenwald Police Chief Sam Livingston, his officers say Deputy Halfacre got on the phone with the sheriff and was told to take the DUI suspect home.

The traffic stop has since prompted a TBI investigation. Agents interviewed officers at the scene and watched the body cam video.

The TBI confirmed to News 2 that its results of the investigation were turned over to District Attorney General Kim Helper.

“Yes, the investigation from our end is complete and our findings were presented to the DA’s office in August,” TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said. “Since TBI investigative case files are confidential per statute T.C.A. §10-7-504(2) (A),we are unable to provide any videos or files related to this investigation.”

News 2 went to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday to get Sheriff Kilpatrick’s reaction during that investigation. He refused to comment saying, “It’s under investigation. [I] can’t talk to you.”

So here’s where it all stands – the woman from the DUI stop was never charged with a crime, the TBI investigation into the sheriff is over with no apparent action taken and Deputy Halfacre was taken off the road and put in the jail. He has since quit his job at the sheriff’s department.

Multiple calls to Sheriff Kilpatrick and Deputy Halfacre over the course of several days by News 2 have not been returned.

Late Wednesday, District Attorney General Kim Helper said, “There is no investigation. The TBI is finished. There was not sufficient evidence to go forward with criminal prosecution.”

Chief Livingston said his officers did not write up a report because the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office initiated the stop. He said because of this incident, there has been a policy change and officers will complete a report if there is an incident inside the city limit.