Did drop in blood sugar spark public intoxication arrest?
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Editor’s note: The staff of Atmore News is in no way trying to discredit the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in this matter. Nor are we taking the side of the victim.
An Atmore man whose wife was arrested recently by an unidentified deputy sheriff for public intoxication feels the arrest was in error, but the county’s top lawman said such a charge is pretty much a judgment call that requires no proof of intoxication.
The incident that led to the arrest of 46-year-old Angela White occurred Saturday, June 3. When the local woman, who suffers from hypoglycemia, pulled into the parking lot of Rolin Construction on Jack Springs Road, she did not stop in time, and her car jumped a parking curb.
An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputy, reportedly conducting an operation near the site, witnessed the wayward parking effort and pulled into the parking lot to investigate.
“It wasn’t even really a wreck, it didn’t even hurt the car,” said George White, the accused woman’s husband. “She kind of went over the curbing in a private parking lot, and I guess they were there, right across the street or something, and saw it. Nobody actually called them; they just came over there.
“She was having some diabetic trouble and pulled into the parking lot to call me or our son to come get her. I told the sheriff, ‘Y’all didn’t check her sugar, didn’t check her blood pressure, didn’t do anything.’ He said the nurses at the jail checked her, but they didn’t. They didn’t do nothing, just assumed she was drunk.”
Sheriff Heath Jackson said the angry husband called him on his cell phone, and he immediately had the woman released.
“I literally released her early to help him out and told him to take her to the hospital,” the sheriff said.
Escambia County Detention Center records show Angela White was booked into the facility at 12:40 p.m. and released at 1:54 p.m.
George White said he didn’t follow the sheriff’s advice because there was no need to.
“I didn’t take her to the hospital because I knew what was going on,” he explained. “I knew her sugar was low, that I needed to get her somewhere so I could get her pills and stuff to bring her sugar up. When I got her home, her blood sugar was below 50. They didn’t do any of that; I had to do it.”
He said his wife, who worked 16 years for the Alabama Department of Corrections before going on disability after brain surgery, never partakes of alcoholic beverages or drugs that are not prescribed for her.
“When she gets like that, she has problems,” he said. “She doesn’t drink at all, and she’s got a clean record. She worked for the state for 16 years and never had nothing. Why would they just assume she’s drunk?”
George White said he was baffled that no roadside sobriety test was performed at the scene, nor was an intoximeter test or blood test administered when his wife got to the county jail.
The sheriff said state law does not require such an analysis when a public intoxication charge is filed.
“A sample is not required nor done on a public intoxication case,” he said.
According to Alabama criminal Code Section 13A-11-10, “a person commits the crime of public intoxication if he (or she) appears in a public place under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or other drug to the degree that he (or she) endangers himself (or herself) or another person or property, or by boisterous and offensive conduct annoys another person in his vicinity.”
George White said he isn’t trying to muddy the sheriff’s office waters, that he just doesn’t understand the whole incident.
“She’s upset and embarrassed because this has been all over the Internet,” he said. “I’m mad, too, but I’m not trying to make the sheriff’s life miserable, I’m just trying to clear this up. I have respect for them (sheriff and deputies), I like all of them. I’m just trying to figure out what the deal is.”
Jackson said he will stand behind his deputy and let the courts settle the matter.
“I’m not buying his [White’s] story,” he said. “We have no comment on it due to (the fact) I can’t discuss her health and other things that are part of that. The deputy did his job, and I stand by him. He [George White] can try to shine a negative light on us if he chooses. She will have a court date, and the courts will make the decision.”