An off-duty Wagener police officer has been relieved of his duties after being detained for driving under the influence while driving a town police car early Friday, according to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.
Officer Craig Elliot Martin, 30, of Jordan Loop in Wagener, was charged with driving under the influence and placed in the Aiken County detention center. He had been released as of Friday afternoon.
Martin was “relieved of his duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer” on Friday following a preliminary investigation by the Sheriff's Office and an internal investigation by the Wagener Police Department, according to a statement from Chief Tom Gray.
“The employees of the Town of Wagener and Wagener Police Department are held to high standards of professional and proper behavior at all times, without compromise,” Gray said.
At about 3:30 a.m. Friday, officers saw a black Ford Crown Victoria “acting very suspicious” across the street from the Kent's Korner store on Old Ninety Six Indian Trail Road in Aiken, according to a sheriff's report.
The car was traveling in circles around the parking lot and then onto the roadway of Highway 39 without headlights, traveling “very slowly” at times.
Officers thought the vehicle and driver were conducting surveillance in the area, but further investigation revealed that Wagener police weren't conducting any surveillances, according to the report. They approached the vehicle, which was now parked near some trash Dumpsters with its headlights off. The car then took off onto Highway 39 toward Wagener.
The car was seen turning around and heading back toward the store, according to the report. An officer exited his vehicle and asked the driver of the car to exit his. When asked if he was an officer, the driver of the black car responded “yes.”
Martin was pale in the face and smelled of alcohol, according to the report. Officers could see a case of beer on the passenger floorboard of the vehicle and an open Bud Light beer in the cup holder. Other law enforcement officials arrived on scene, including Wagener police Chief Tom Gray.
Martin provided lawmen with his license as well as a Williston police credential and a Wagener police badge, according to the report. Officers asked him to submit to field sobriety testing but he refused. He was taken to the detention center, where he also refused a Breathalyzer.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.