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Police officer believes ticket issued to popular college football coach caused his firing

Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney is a popular figure in his state -- so popular, in fact, that a recently fired police officer believes he was terminated for issuing him a speeding ticket.

The ticket was issued early last month after the coach was clocked driving 63 miles-per-hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone in Pickens, South Carolina, a town just 20 miles from Clemson's campus.

Swinney -- who was pulled over in the parking lot of a grocery store where he was scheduled to perform his radio show -- ended up signing autographs for fans who saw him waiting outside his truck for the speeding ticket.

This ticket quickly became a hot topic online, with several differing versions of the story circulating among fans. In one version, Swinney lost his temper with the police officer, while another alleged that the police officer had been motivated to issue the ticket because of his allegiance to the University of South Carolina, Clemson's in-state rival.

The city of Pickens is contending that the officer was fired because he used a police department computer to publish his side of the story on internet message boards while on the clock.

However, the officer contends that he only briefly edited the post, and that local officials were eager to find a reason to fire him because they are pro-Clemson.

"I was wrongfully terminated for doing my job. The computer issue is a red herring," read a prepared statement by the officer.

Interestingly, Swinney's speeding ticket was later reduced by the city police chief -- without consulting the officer -- to a two-point offense, which is typically issued to drivers who exceed the speed limit by 10 miles-per-hour or less and results in a fine of $82.50. He was originally issued a six-point offense, which results in a fine of $185.

"I have always had the utmost respect for law enforcement," said Swinney in a letter written on his personal stationery to the police chief thanking him for the ticket reduction. "I wish this situation had been handled differently but I appreciate the latitude you provided with reducing the points and fine."

Stay tuned updates on this interesting case from our New York traffic law blog ...

If you or a loved one has received a speeding ticket or traffic citation, don't just dismiss it.

Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

The Spartanburg Herald Journal, "Fired Pickens officer speaking out about Dabo Swinney ticket," Jeffrey Collins, Sept. 27, 2012

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