Officer punished in driving incident

A Seymour police officer has been disciplined for his recent actions that led him to drive his police car into a local restaurant.

Police Chief Bill Abbott told the city’s board of public works and safety Thursday he has followed the recommendations of the police complaint review board in disciplining Officer Mathew Carver.

Abbott would not release what disciplinary actions were taken, saying it was a personnel issue that would not be made public but would remain in Carver’s personnel file. He said no further action would be taken in the matter.

The review board, which consists of Assistant Police Chief Craig Hayes, Capt. Carl Lamb, citizens Mike Williams and Sonnie Hardwick and city Councilman Lloyd Hudson, met Monday to review the incident and make a recommendation. Hardwick was unable to attend the meeting.

Abbott has the final decision in disciplining staff unless the recommendation is for termination or suspension of five days or more. Those actions would have required a public hearing and a vote by the board of works.

The investigation into the May 19 incident determined Carver was driving about 70 mph en route to a 911 call when he swerved to miss a vehicle that pulled out of a side road into the path of his vehicle.

The speed limit in that area of Tipton Street is 35 mph.

Carver and an intern riding in his squad car, Thomas Chamberlain, 22, of Martinsville, were not injured when Carver drove the 2010 Crown Victoria off the road and into the Wendy’s restaurant at 1101 E. Tipton St. There were employees in the restaurant at the time but they were not in the dining area and were not hurt, according to reports.

Carver was driving east on Tipton Street to investigate a call at the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center at 1000 S. Poplar St. That call was regarding an incident in which two janitors told dispatchers someone was blocking them from leaving the school and one of the people had threatened them.

The call did not require Carver to activate his lights and siren, so he didn’t have them on.

A 21-year-old woman who pulled out in front of Carver from the driveway just east of Wendy’s told police she didn’t see Carver’s police car and pulled out after a vehicle in front of Carver turned into the parking lot of Busy Bee Liquors just east of the driveway she was leaving.

When she saw Carver’s police car, she stopped, forcing him to make a decision — drive into eastbound traffic and hit the sport utility vehicle the woman was driving or drive off the right side of the road into Wendy’s, police said.

Carver’s vehicle hit a culvert, damaging the steering and braking system, and then went into the restaurant, police reported.

Drug and alcohol tests required of all officers involved in a wreck determined Carver had not been drinking or under the influence of drugs.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.