Published: Jul 31, 2012 03:00 PM
Modified: Jul 31, 2012 03:01 PM
An attorney for a tractor-trailer driver who was involved in an accident last week says that his client, Charles Caldwell, was not, in fact, driving while impaired, when he struck and injured a Durham police officer, although he has been charged for it.
The incident occurred last Wednesday when Caldwell was driving on Interstate 85 when his tractor-trailer struck Durham police officer Teresa Gilliam, who was pulled over on the shoulder of the Interstate. Gilliam was in an unmarked police car behind a Mazda she had pulled over just past the exit ramp for Cole Mill Road. She rear-ended the Mazda when her car was hit.
Gilliam suffered serious injuries and was transported to the hospital. The driver of the Mazda was transported to Duke Hospital, where she was treated and released.
Caldwell, 44, of Georgia, was released from the hospital Monday afternoon. He was being treated for a "medical event" unrelated to the accident, according to Bill Thomas, Caldwell's attorney. The attorney would not elaborate on Caldwell's medical history.
When Caldwell was released from the hospital, he was taken to the Durham County Jail and arrested with a $100,000 unsecured bond. He has been charged with felony serious injury by a motor vehicle while impaired, careless and wreckless driving, failure to move his vehicle into a lane that was not the lane nearest a law officer, and driving while impaired. It is the last charge, driving while impaired, that Thomas disputes.
According to Thomas, his client was not impaired while driving, and a toxicology report he had conducted by Duke University shows that there were no drugs in Caldwell's system. Durham police believe, however, that there is evidence Caldwell was driving while impaired.
"Charging serious crimes and then investigating later is not how the criminal justice system should work," said Thomas.
Thomas said that his client will not be returning to work soon because of his medical condition.
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