Designated driver vindicated

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From staff reports

EAGLEVILLE - The police chief is still on patrol here where the mayor says he's got no evidence that the man did anything but be a designated driver on March 3 when one of his passengers was perceived to be inebriated.

That other passenger was Cornersville Police Officer Sean Sweeney who was in the car Eagleville police Chief Eli Stuard was driving when it was stopped by Cornersville Police Officer Michael Galyon, and was later seen at a Lewisburg nightspot

Sweeney was dismissed on the grounds that he'd been intoxicated in public at the nightspot. Galyon was dismissed for violation of a number of policies according to public records revealed in mid-March. Galyon failed to issue a citation for speeding; completed a traffic stop without notifying dispatch of his location; failed to request backup when he found there was more than one person in the truck; turned off, or deleted, video of the stop; turned off his emergency lights while at the traffic stop; and, allowed the driver to leave the scene without administering a field sobriety test.

Since Stuard was not charged, Eagleville Mayor Sam Tune concluded he has no record of Stuard misbehaving.

Stuard is a former Cornersville police officer and on Jan. 26, 2011, Eagleville councilmen hired him with a starting salary of $30,000. Stuard has also worked for the Marshall County Sheriff's Department, and the Huntsville, Ala., Police Department. He's been a resident of Lewisburg and planned to move to Eagleville.

"He is still our police chief," Tune said in a calm and frank telephone conversation. "I'm not going to say how soon, but a few days after that [incident], he did come in and we discussed it. He made us aware of it.

"The issue that I have is someone needs to show me what Chief Stuard did wrong," the mayor said. "From what I understand, the Tennessee Highway Patrol did an investigation."

Tune does not know anything about the nightspot at Lewisburg, he said.

Asked about an allegation that the vehicle Stuard was driving as the designated driver was traveling at 81 mph, Tune replied, "The issue I have is I've heard two stories - about different speeds, and the information we have is that he was not drinking.

"Chief Stuard was the designated driver, and with no citations I don't know what to do about it," Tune said. "From what I've been told, there's no proof of him doing wrong."

Tune, Eagleville City Manager William Haston and Stuard discussed the matter at Stuard's request, the mayor said.

Meanwhile, the mayor said he recently received a "letter from one of the coaches at the high school." It's a letter of commendation saying that during a tournament, Stuard was recognized as handling a situation with professionalism and in a way that maintained peace during an emotional situation between rival teams.

The tournament included teams from all over the southeastern United States.

"Evidently there were some issues between people - more of them were fans - and the officials at Eagleville High School wanted to tell me about how he did such a good job," Tune said, complimenting Stuard.

Fans were apparently angry with umpires and Stuard escorted some people to their vehicles, the mayor said.

In the early months of his employment as chief, Stuard had done an "excellent job of introducing himself to the community" and he's been an asset to Eagleville, the mayor said.