Montgomery Police Chief Booked

Montgomery Police Chief John Wilson has hired a local attorney to represent him.  In a statement, authorized by Wilson, released Thursday by the Montgomery Police Department, Terry Travis is the attorney named as Wilson's lawyer.  The statement goes on to say that "Chief Wilson will enter a plea of  'not guilty' to the pending charge."

Wilson was booked in Montgomery County around 6 p.m. Wednesday evening on a warrant charging "reckless endangerment."    Wilson was quickly released and will have to appear in court on August 9th.

The man making the claim against Wilson has video and audio tape to back up some of the things he says happened late Tuesday night. The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is asking Hooper to provide the audio and video tapes to them for an investigation.

For now, Chief Wilson remains on the job conducting business as usual. Mayor Bobby Bright says he hopes to have reports on his desk soon about the incident. Bright says he supports Wilson but wants to know exactly what happened.

There are conflicting statements from the police officers who apparently pulled MPD Chief John Wilson over.

On I-85 North in Macon County, a black Ford Bronco sits. Inside, a Montgomery police uniform with badge number one pinned to it -- a badge number that belongs to Montgomery Police Chief John Wilson. How it and the black Ford Bronco got there is a matter of contention.

Rhett Hooper has one version. "He ran me off the road, it was a full size Bronco, and he kept weaving and weaving," says Hooper.

Hooper says he called police to alert them to the problem, and a Shorter officer responded. But when we spoke to him, he brushed off Hooper's accusation. Here's what Officer J.W. Spencer told WSFA 12: "Subject fell asleep. And that's all."

It would seem a simple task to discover who's telling the truth: Hooper, who attended the Montgomery Police Academy, or Shorter police. But Hooper says video tape he shot on the scene seems to show that Shorter officers never tested Wilson on the scene. Hooper claims when he insisted officers arrest Wilson, Shorter's chief threatened him - something he caught on audio tape.

Here's what we heard on the tape:

Hooper: "Chief, I want to make a citizens arrest."

Shorter's chief: "You are not going to supersede my authority and make a citizen's arrest. Only thing you can do is go to jail. Now if you stay out here. I'm telling' ya, I'm going to place you under arrest. I'm giving you an order to leave."

When we visited Shorter Police Headquarters, the chief refused to speak to us and no one would tell us where Wilson was. Which leaves open the questions: Was John Wilson drinking and driving? And why didn't Shorter police try to answer that question?

Hooper says it was obvious to him. He tells WSFA 12: "He ran me off the road, and when we got out on the scene there, he was drunk. He was stumbling, and his eyes were glassed over. You can tell, and it appeared to me they didn't do a field sobriety test, and that's a standard procedure on something like that because I called it in as a DUI."

Rhett Hooper told us he was working part time as a private investigator Tuesday night, which is why he was carrying video and audio recorders with him. He let us hear long stretches of tape in which it sounds like the officer on the scene agrees that Wilson was drunk.

WSFA 12 spoke early Wednesday morning with Mayor Bobby Bright, who has already called for a full investigation. Bright issued the following statement:

"I will not allow inappropriate conduct to go on, and I will take swift action if it's called for. I expected Shorter police to fully investigate if Wilson was drinking and driving. I won't allow anyone to cover this incident up if that's happening."

We asked Bright if he wanted Wilson to take a blood or breathalyzer test to settle the issue. Bright replied, "That's Wilson's choice."

This isn't the first time Chief Wilson's been accused of driving under the influence. According to a police report in August of 2000, Wilson was driving his personal vehicle when the driver in front of him tried to change lanes.

The report says Wilson didn't stop in time and hit the car in front of him. Wilson says it was just an accident. However, there were questions over whether he was driving under the influence. Mayor bright did tell WSFA 12 back then that Wilson admitted he had a few beers hours before the accident, but claimed the alcohol was out of his system.

As for Hooper, his background is not without blemishes. Hooper spent four years as a Montgomery police officer, however, he resigned under an investigative cloud. According to the department Hooper had problems with lack of respect, racial harassment, and failing to give proper notice of his resignation.