Fired Savannah officer said drinking problem began after June shooting

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A now fired Savannah Police Department officer was arrested for driving under the influence in September.

Then-officer Ernest Ferguson was pulled over in Liberty County for going over 40 miles over the speed limit. During the traffic stop he failed a breathalyzer test.

Ferguson is the same officer who shot and killed 31-year-old Saudi Lee in Savannah in June.

While being questioned about the DUI by Savannah Police Department’s internal affairs, Ferguson said he told the arresting officer his drinking problem began after he was involved in shooting more than two months earlier. Lee was shot and killed by Ferguson roughly two months prior on June 24.

“I told him that I had been in a shooting situation and been struggling with that for over two months and I made a bad mistake,” Ferguson is heard saying in the video.

Ferguson made these comments after his arrest on Sept 11 . Ferguson was pulled over by Liberty County deputies for going 94 miles per hour in 55 miles per hour zone on East Oglethorpe Highway. In dash cam video, he told officers he was coming from his mother’s house - but that was not true.

The following is the exchange between Ferguson and SPD internal affairs:

“When the deputy asked you had you been drinking, what did you tell him?

“I told him no,” Ferguson said.

“Would you consider that cooperative at that moment?

“Not at that particular moment, no,” Ferguson said.

That’s not the only thing he lied about. Ferguson later admitted he went downtown for drinks with other Savannah officers.

“I had one shot of Jager and probably eight or nine beers,” Ferguson said.

Georgia State Patrol was eventually called for backup. A breathalyzer test showed Ferguson’s alcohol level was .129. The legal limit is .08.

In the recording while he was being questioned, Ferguson went into detail multiple times about his drinking problem after the shooting he was involved in.

“Obviously, I messed up and saying that after the fact doesn’t help but I have really been struggling with it,” he said.

Since Ferguson was fired on Oct. 20, WTOC has learned he also had a disciplinary history of use of force incidents with the Savannah Police Department.