AYNOR, SC (WBTW) – After dash cam video from an Horry County police cruiser showed Aynor mayor and Chief Financial Officer for Horry County Schools driving a lawn mower down 9th Avenue in Aynor with a beer, officials are offering conflicting stories on why the mayor was not cited or charged with a crime.
On the dashcam video, the Horry County Police officer can be heard saying the Aynor mayor, John Gardner, is driving his tractor on the road with an open can of beer.
Gardner, however, was not charged or cited for a crime. How the case was handled and exactly who handled it is unclear, according to report from Horry County Police.
Originally, Horry County Police said Aynor police handled the call for service. Then, a spokesperson for HCPD said that wasn’t the case.
Just after 8:30 p.m. on August 25, Horry County Police officer Ricky Ruggerio tries to pull over Gardner, and at first, the mayor doesn’t stop his lawn mower.
When he does, officers ask Gardner to turn off the mower and the officer then points to the beer can Gardner has with him.
“You put me in a spot,” Ruggerio can be heard saying to the mayor on the video.
Horry County’s ordinance against an open container says:
“No person shall possess in any public place not licensed for on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages any opened container of any alcoholic beverage.”
In the video, Gardner is asked to wait by the lawn mower, but then stumbles into the police car.
Court documents show at least one person in South Carolina has been charged with DUI whiel operating a tractor, but Horry County Police Spokesperson Krystal Dotson says Gardner wasn’t cited with anything.
“If that was me driving the car, even though I’m a police officer, I’d be on the news. I’d hate to see you on the news,” the officer says during the conversation captured on dashcam video.
When questioned as to what exception Gardner had in relation to the open container ordinance, Dotson said any criminal charges or citations are made at the officer’s discretion.
During the stop, the officer debates what to do, and tells Gardner to pour the beer out.
“Alright, well, what’s going to happen is I’m going to have Aynor come out here,” the officer tells Gardner.
Aynor Police Chief David Thompson says his officers were not involved in the call.
“The situation involving Mayor Gardner was neither initiated or investigated by the Aynor Police Department. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to make a comment on another agencies case,” Thompson says.
The dash cam video ends with Gardner moving his lawn mower out the street and an Aynor police car driving off.
News13 attempted to contact Mayor Gardner multiple times, but have not received a call back.
News13 also contacted Horry County Schools to see if there were any changes to Gardner’s employment status with the district but we haven’t heard back.
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