An Atlanta Police officer charged with possession of marijuana, DUI and speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour all while driving a car that belonged to the FBI, has been suspended without pay.
According to a statement by the APD, Chief George Turner conducted a hearing with Investigator Bennie Evett Bridges today and decided to suspend him without pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges against him.
Bridges is an investigator in the APD’s vice unit and he spearheaded the department’s 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle bar which landed the City of Atlanta in court. The bar’s owners and patrons successfully sued the APD in a highly publicized legal battle over claims that the police had violated their civil rights by subjecting them to illegal searches and unlawful detainment. The City of Atlanta paid them more than $1 million as a result of the lawsuit. A later investigation showed Bridges ordered two doubles of Ketel One vodka during the raid, which he said he only sipped before throwing away. [Earlier reports referred to erroneous witness testimony that Bridges was drinking Jaegermeister shots during the raid.]
As first reported by The Ramage Report on Feb. 5, Bridges was arrested by Cobb County Police a little before 3 a.m. on Feb. 3. after he passed a Cobb DUI officer who estimated him to be speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour on I-285. The Dodge that Bridges was driving would later turn out to be a task force car provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the APD for use in child prostitution cases
After pulling the car over at the Cobb Parkway exit, the Cobb officer noted on a report that he “made contact with the driver, Bennie Bridges, and immediately detected a strong odor of freshly sprayed cologne.”
Bridges’ speech was slurred, the officer said, his eyes glassy and bloodshot. “He exited the vehicle and I was still only able to detect the overpowering odor of cologne. He was very unsteady on his feet and stumbled as he exited the car, using it for support.”
The report states “When I asked how much he had been drinking, Bridges replied ‘I drank too much.’ He consented to a series of field sobriety evaluations after saying ‘I know I will fail them.’” A portable alcohol sensor used by an officer at the scene showed “a positive reading for the presence of alcohol.” The officer checked Bridges’ focus and saw that his eyes wandered, “and he swayed during the evaluation. During the instructional phase of the walk and turn, Bridges failed to maintain his balance. He missed heel-toe, stepped off line, used his arms for balance, took eight steps and turned improperly.” Bridges himself stopped the evaluation “after putting his foot down several times. He advised he had a high school education and knew the alphabet. He recited the alphabet by saying ‘…QRX.’ He exclaimed several times ‘I know I have fucked up! I know I shouldn’t be driving.’…After the cologne dissipated, I was able to detect a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath and person.”
After Bridges was taken into custody for DUI, he told the Cobb officers about “a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle. A search of the center console of the vehicle yielded a blue plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.” He was transported to the Cobb County jail where officers administered another breath alcohol test. Bridges’ breath registered “0.187 g and 0.179.” The legal limit is .08. The suspected marijuana weighed 1.5 grams. The car he’d been driving was picked up by the APD. He was released on $1900 bond that same day.