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A Columbia, SC Police officer was fired last Tuesday after being charged with criminal domestic violence and driving under the influence (DUI). Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago said 41-year-old Gerald Atkinson was released from his duties Tuesday.
As deputies approached his home in response to a call regarding possible domestic violence, they saw a truck pull out of the driveway and drive away at a high rate of speed. Deputies stopped Atkinson, and he got out of the vehicle at the officers' request. Deputies observed a holstered gun in the driver's side door and an unopened mini-bottle of liquor, the report states.
Atkinson allegedly stumbled while exiting the vehicle and had a hard time finding his driver's license in his wallet. Deputies report smelling an odor of alcohol coming from Atkinson.
According to the report, Atkinson asked deputies what the problem was and they told him that LCSD had received a report of domestic violence at his home. He told deputies that his girlfriend of approximately a year and a half had gone to his home because she was upset over a text message she had seen.
Deputies told Atkinson that they suspected he was DUI. He told them that he "had a couple of drinks" and had also taken "medication he was subscribed," the report states. He then asked deputies "for a little bit of help," saying he was on their side and was law enforcement, according to the report.
A traffic unit deputy then conducted a field sobriety test and took Atkinson, who refused to provide a breath sample, into custody.He was charged with criminal domestic violence and DUI.
Prior to the Friday night incident, Atkinson had been placed on unpaid administrative leave after CPD received additional information regarding domestic violence allegations. A friend of Atkinson contacted the sheriff's department to report that the former officer showed up to his house with marks all over his face. Atkinson allegedly showed the friend pictures of his girlfriend with bruises and a broken nose.
"We as police officers are held to a higher standard in the public's eye," said Interim Police Chief Santiago. "We need to adhere to the laws that we are sworn to uphold. There are no excuses. The Columbia Police Department will only have outstanding officers serve citizens, and nothing less. These are serious allegations that have been brought to our attention."