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Coronavirus excuse can’t stop trip to jail

Falsely claiming she had been caring for a relative with coronavirus did not prevent a trip to jail for a local woman suspected of driving under the influence. In fact, the mistruth worsened her situation. Sgt. Michael Newman and Dep. Hunter Hemphill were dispatched to Sanders Road March 15 to check out a report of a vehicle in the ditch. The driver, 52-year-old Shawn Smith of a Gainer Rd. address in Griffin, told Hemphill she had been caring for her mother who had COVID-19 and ran out of gas. Sgt. Newman donned protective gear and approached Smith. She said a male was driving and left the scene, walking in the direction she was going. Newman then questioned a man who was the complainant. He said he saw Smith get out of the car with an alcoholic beverage in her hand and when he got to her he knew something was wrong. The witness also said he saw Smith throw the alcoholic beverage toward a fence when deputies approached. Newman located a can of hard lemonade that was still cold with condensation on the can. He attempted to question Smith who would not respond, saying only that she wanted her lawyer. According to Newman’s report, Smith was unsteady on her feet, had an abnormal gait, bloodshot, glassy eyes and reeked of alcohol. Newman attempted to cuff Smith and she twisted away and went to the ground. Once cuffed, she was placed in the rear of a patrol car. She cursed and spit at Newman as he read her rights. Smith was combative all the way to the jail and placed into a restraint chair once there. She refused testing. The patrol car was disinfected due to the coronavirus claim. Deputies checked with Smith’s mother and other family members and learned no one in the family was ill. Smith was charged with terroristic threats and acts, DUI (refusal), DUI (less safe), open container violation and simple battery against a police officer. Further investigation revealed Smith had gotten out of jail in Spalding County earlier that day. ‘It turned out okay in the end but my deputies were upset when a woman claiming to have been exposed started spitting at them,’ sheriff Brad White said.

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