Thursday, October 29, 2009
Atlantic Beach police chief Randy Rizzo admitted he drank ''too many beers'' and that led to his arrest Wednesday morning by Horry County officers outside a pool hall.
Rizzo, 39, of Conway was charged with public disorderly/public intoxication and was later was suspended from his position, according to Town Manager William Booker.
''That officer had every right to charge me,'' Rizzo said. ''I'm guilty. I'm not going to deny the fact. I'll pay like anyone else.''
Rizzo was arrested soon after the officer, Scott Calderwood, saw Rizzo drive his truck in a parking lot. Rizzo said he told the officer he was moving his vehicle to a safer place and had called his wife to pick him up, but got a verbal altercation with another officer that led to his arrest.
''I was trying to be a good Samaritan and not do anything illegal,'' Rizzo said. ''Unfortunately the officer got upset with me.''
Rizzo was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center at 3:04 a.m. and released at 4:03 a.m. after posting $262 bail.
Booker said he spoke with Rizzo on Wednesday morning before suspending him.
''He told me he was guilty of having too much to drink,'' Booker said. ''He said he was guilty. People here are pretty disappointed this happened.''
Atlantic Beach Town Councilman Donnell Thompson said ''wow'' when he learned of Rizzo's arrest.
''I would expect Booker to make the right decision,'' Thompson said of Rizzo's future.
It was not immediately known if Rizzo will be paid during the suspension, Booker said. ''I'm leaning toward it being unpaid,'' Booker said.
Booker said he plans to talk with Horry County officials before determining the length of the suspension.
''They just have to determine if I can do this job because of this charge,'' Rizzo said.
Despite telling officers at the scene he was drinking, Rizzo was not given a field sobriety test at the scene, said Sgt. Robert Kegler of Horry County police.
''The officer made the decision he made,'' Kegler said. ''Not every traffic stop is the same.''
The suspension leaves Atlantic Beach with three police officers. Booker said he would speak to the officers before determining if the town needs to ask Horry County police for patrol assistance.
Calderwood reported he saw Rizzo walking from Break Room Billiards to the parking lot of the Food Lion at the intersection of S.C. 544 and Myrtle Ridge Road at 1:45 a.m., according to an incident report.
Rizzo was ''extremely unsteady on his feet and appeared almost to fall,'' the report shows.
Rizzo entered a Dodge Ram truck near the Sonic on S.C. 544 when Calderwood approached Rizzo. Rizzo closed the truck door, started the vehicle and drove it to Break Room Billiards, the officer reported.
Calderwood reported that he asked Rizzo if he had too much to drink and Rizzo replied, ''No.''
Rizzo began slurring his words and told the officer he had been drinking.
Rizzo asked Calderwood twice if he knew who he was and the officer replied that he did and that ''it didn't matter,'' the report shows.
The report shows that Rizzo told Calderwood he would call his wife to pick him up, but later Rizzo got back in the truck and drove past the officer's vehicle.
Rizzo disputes he was in his vehicle twice and that's what led to the argument and his arrest.
''I didn't get in my vehicle twice,'' Rizzo said. ''I may have gone out once to get cigarettes or something.''
Rizzo said he was moving his truck closer to Break Room Billiards because he felt it would be safer there overnight.
The officer reported that he stopped the vehicle in the parking lot and that Rizzo attempted to exit. Rizzo was asked if he was carrying a ''duty weapon,'' the report shows.
The officer's supervisor arrived and Rizzo became ''loud and upset'' before he was arrested.
Calderwood reported that Rizzo asked ''why I was doing this to him.''
''I would have charged me just like anyone else,'' Rizzo said.