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PPD officer fired after internet post about Dabo Swinney traffic stop

PICKENS — An Pickens Police Department officer was fired Monday after he posted details of a traffic stop involving Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney on a University of South Carolina internet message board using department equipment, police chief Rodney Gregory said Friday.

According to a press release from Gregory, a vehicle driven by Swinney, whose legal name is William Christopher Swinney, was stopped for speeding in the parking lot of Bi-lo in Pickens at around 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3.

Click here for Dabo Swinney Traffic Stop Dashcam Video

Gregory said the vehicle was clocked traveling 63 mph in a 35 mph zone on S.C. 8 within Pickens city limits.
A dashcam video released to the media Friday showed Swinney and a passenger, confirmed to be Swinney’s brother, approach the officer’s car after the stop. Swinney told the officer that he was late for his radio call-in show, which was held at the Bi-lo in Pickens that evening.

As Swinney signed autographs for fans in attendance for the radio show, the officer issued him a citation for speeding, which was reduced to a minimum fine and points, according to Gregory, a negotiation tool used often to help people with fine amounts and point violations for insurance purposes.

A copy of the ticket provided to media listed the violation as speeding or driving too fast for conditions.
Upon receiving the citation, Swinney placed the ticket in the vehicle and entered the grocery store for his radio show.

After rumblings began hitting the internet days after the incident, Gregory said, the officer involved in the stop, CPl. Michael McClatchy, used company equipment at approximately 3:37 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, to make a post on Sports247.com, detailing his version of events.

In the posting, the officer said he didn’t plan on posting about the incident, but “wanted to clear the air for all involved.”

The officer said he believed Swinney “thought he would be excused for the violation and continue to his appointment.” He said Swinney and his brother were asked to have a seat in the vehicle, which they did not. The officer also said the Bi-lo store manager approached him and told him a city official was on the phone and would like to speak with him, but the officer declined.

According to the officer, Swinney’s brother said that he was a retired Alabama police officer with more than 30 years of experience and asked the officer to take the fact into consideration.

After placing the citation in his vehicle, the officer said, Swinney gave the officer “what I would call an unfriendly glare, shook his head and proceeded to enter Bi-lo.” The officer said after Swinney entered the store, his brother once again approached the officer, expressing disappointment in his actions as a police officer.

The posting was later removed from the website.

Although Gregory said Swinney and the officer displayed themselves in a professional manner during the incident, McClatchy, who Gregory said had recently been promoted, was fired Monday for violation of city computer policy, violation of code of ethics and violation of general orders.

Gregory said Swinney paid his citation and sent a letter apologizing for his involvement in the situation.


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