Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Wilmington police officer takes leave of absence ahead of DWI court date

More than five months after Hurricane Florence brought extensive water and mold damage to the Pender County Courthouse, the county continues to wait for approval on its restoration plan. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A Wilmington police officer is due in Pender County court on a DWI charge next month.(Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington police officer has taken a leave of absence from the department following a DWI arrest in April. The officer is due in court next month.

According to State Highway Patrol and court records, Wilmington Police Officer Thomas Ryan Spencer crashed into a ditch early on the morning of April 23, not far from his Pender County residence. Spencer’s vehicle sustained an estimated $4,000 in damage and was listed as ‘not driveable.’ The vehicle was a Ford pickup, according to the Highway Patrol report, and did not appear to be a police vehicle.

The trooper who responded to the scene determined that Spencer was intoxicated by an unidentified substance other than alcohol. (The substance was not identified in either Highway Patrol or court papers.)

According to the State Highway Patrol, “on April 23, at approximately 5:12 am, the State Highway Patrol responded to a single-vehicle collision on SR 1114 (Blueberry Rd). The driver of vehicle 1, Thomas Ryan Spencer, 43 Y.O. of Currie, NC traveled off the roadway to the right striking a ditch. The investigating member formed the opinion that Mr. Spencer was impaired by a substance other than alcohol and was placed under arrest.  Mr. Spencer was transported to the Pender County Jail and charged with Driving While Impaired and Reckless Driving. No other vehicles or persons were involved in the collision.” 

Shortly after he was charged at the Pender County Jail, Spencer was released on a $1,000 unsecured bond by Magistrate Larry D. Lewis (the ‘unsecured’ means Spencer was not required to make a cash payment for bail, but will have to pay the full amount if he does not appear in court).

Spencer does not appear to have had to surrender his license. According to WPD personnel records, Spencer’s employment status did not change in the weeks after his arrest. Spencer, who joined the force in 1997, has no demotions or suspensions on his record. He took a leave of absence on June 5.

Spencer is due in Pender County District Court on July 28. He faces DWI and reckless driving charges, both misdemeanors, although the latter can include sentences of up to 60 days in jail, fines of up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension, and points on a driver’s record.

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