Ex-internal affairs chief to file suit against state - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Ex-internal affairs chief to file suit against state

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Former state Department of Public Safety internal affairs chief Bobby Collins says he hopes the lawsuit he's about to file will force DPS director Leroy Smith to tell him what he did during a traffic stop that cost him his $84,000-a-year job.

It was 1:30 a.m. when Collins' Land Rover crossed the center line and a trooper pulled him over on suspicion of DUI.

During the stop, Collins tells the trooper over and over that he doesn't drink, and hasn't taken any drugs.

Collins spent several minutes going back and forth with the trooper, who Collins argued, was giving the sobriety tests incorrectly.

"He was grossly mistreated, and is one of the most egregious situations I've ever seen in my years of practicing law in terms of the discharge of a public official," said Collins' attorney, Louis Cromer.

Cromer will represent Collins in the lawsuit his firm's preparing to file. Cromer says Smith had no legal reason to fire Collins.

"What they characterize as conduct unbecoming an officer, I characterize as righteous indignation," said Cromer.

Smith has refused several times to discuss his decision to fire Collins, saying he doesn't comment on personnel matters.

Collins, who passed every sobriety test trooper Sean Groubert gave him, thinks he was caught up in a much bigger problem with the state Highway Patrol.

"A black guy in a big SUV going across the center line twice. No other evidence of drinking, no other evidence of drinking, no other evidence at all and yet here comes handcuffs, here comes the arrest -- the very thing that he'd spent a great deal of his career ending and which our own patrol is teaching and he's been involved in that," said Cromer. "Here he was, himself the victim of racial profiling. Wouldn't you be righteously outraged by such conduct?"

There is a problem with the video the Highway Patrol gave us -- there was another 20 minutes at the end of the stop left off the original recording.

We also found out Monday morning that it wasn't the only video of that traffic stop. The supervisor who pulled up was also recording audio and sound, but the patrol did not turn that over to us.

We've filed another Freedom of Information Act request for that. We'll let you know if we find anything else on that version.

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