CHERAW, SOUTH CAROLINA – Suspicious driving in the parking lot at Bojangle’s in Chesterfield, at nearly 3 a.m. Saturday morning, prompted a concerned citizen to call the police, and ultimately led to the arrest of David Warren Watson, an off-duty Cheraw police officer, for driving his unmarked police car under the influence of alcohol, according to police.
According to the incident report from the Chesterfield Police Department, the responding officer, Cpl. Robert Adams, saw a vehicle leaving the parking lot at Bojangle’s that matched the description given; a white car with tinted windows. The report said the caller had seen the car “backing around in circles and pulling up parallel with the building in the truck section of the parking lot.”
Adams followed the vehicle and said he was planning “to perform a traffic stop to identify the subject and inquire why the subject was in the parking lot at that time of night,” when the suspect turned into the driveway at 911 W. Main Street in Chesterfield, Watson’s home.
Adams turned on his blue lights and pulled in behind the suspect. When the suspect got out of the car, Adams recognized him as a member of the Cheraw Police force. He also noted that Watson was barefooted, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and had a “slurred speech,” the report said.
Although no open containers, or other evidence, was found in the car, Adams said “there was an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle as well as from his person.”
The report said, “Watson admitted that he had been drinking earlier that day.” However, he refused to take a field sobriety test, police said.
Watson was told to wait by the car for minute, but instead, followed Adams toward the patrol car in a “wide and erratic step,” said Adams, “which inferred that he was impaired.”
Adams then asked Watson to stand at the rear of his patrol car while he put in a call to Chesterfield Police Chief Eric Hewitt. When Adams looked back over his shoulder, Watson “was going inside the door of the house” and managed to lock the wooden door just as Adams reached the storm door.
Watson then refused to respond or to unlock the door. It was not until after Lt. Lisenby prepared a search warrant, and went to Judge Davis’ residence to get it approved and signed, that Watson emerged, police said.
“Upon return Chief Hewitt and Keith Thomas from the Cheraw Police Department had talked Watson into coming out,” said Adams. He was arrested without further incident.
Cheraw Chief of Police Jay Brooks has issued this statement: “David Watson is a fine officer and person who has made a very dangerous mistake. We deeply regret this for him, his family and friends, and this department.
“He will be afforded the full ‘due process’ of the law, as anyone would, however due to violation of several department and town policies, Mr. Watson is terminated effective immediately. The men and women in law enforcement are held to a higher standard, as are all people that work in public service,” Brooks said.