North Myrtle Beach officials today released a nearly hour-long police dashcam video that shows a heated altercation between a former police officer and Melissa Edge, the wife of state Rep. Tracy Edge, that took place on Sept. 14 at the citys fire station on Sea Mountain Highway.
Warning: Explicit language used during video.
The video shows a combative Melissa Edge who admits to drinking alcohol prior to the event and at one point threatens Senter with his job if he takes her to jail.
Former police Sgt. Senter states numerous times on the video that Melissa Edge is intoxicated, but he does not arrest her. Instead, he urges her to get psychological help and then arranges for Tracy Edge to pick her up and take her home.
Senter, a 16-year veteran of the citys police department, was fired because of his actions that night.
The city released the video in response to an order from a circuit court Judge Benjamin Culbertson, who said the public's right to know the activities of a police officer while on duty and the possible reasons for his discharge outweigh any of the defendants' rights to privacy.
The city wanted to keep the dashcam video private, saying it is exempt under the state's Freedom of Information Act because it involves a personnel matter.
Tracy Edge, R-North Myrtle Beach, also asked Culbertson last week to keep the video private because it would be an embarrassment to him and his family.
The Sun News and William Bailey, the city's former public safety director, filed a lawsuit against North Myrtle Beach on Oct. 19, claiming the video is a public document under the state's Freedom of Information Act. Culbertson heard arguments in the case last week.
In his ruling, Culbertson said the video depicts an argument occurring in public by two people who knew they were being videoed. Thus, the court questions whether the video actually contains private information.
Culbertson said the city violated the states Freedom of Information Act by withholding the video.
The altercation started at about 9:45 p.m. Sept. 14 when Melissa Edge drove her car to the city's Cherry Grove fire station to confront Senter, who was on duty and already at the facility.
The video shows that Melissa Edge was angry because she believed Senter had been talking to a firefighter at the station with whom she also was having a relationship.
The police officer activated the dashcam recorder to document Mrs. Edge's combativeness and her alleged intoxication, Culbertson said in his order. Furthermore, Mrs. Edge knew that her actions were being recorded by the police officer.
After Senter activated his dashcam recorder, Melissa Edge voluntarily states that she and [Senter] had an affair that included rendezvous while the police officer was on duty, according to the video and Culbertsons order.
Nearly 22 minutes into the event, Senter tells Melissa Edge: Im getting ready to put you in jail.
Youre drunk, youre intoxicated, Senter said.
Melissa Edge responds by telling Senter youre going to lose your f------ job if you take me to jail right now.
Senter then called his supervisor -- police Lt. Mike Baldasarre -- on the telephone.
Shes up here raising hell, Senter told Baldasarre. Weve got to take her home. Shes drunk.
The two men agree to contact Tracy Edge to take his wife home after Senter moves her car to a parking spot across the street from the fire station.
Tracy Edge told The Sun News that he has not seen the video and does not want to see it. He said neither he nor his wife asked the city for any special treatment.
Melissa Edge apologized for the incident in a statement released to The Sun News today.
During the incident I never asked for, nor did I expect to be treated any differently than any other citizen, Melissa Edge said in the statement.
Every day I try to teach my children how one bad decision can affect your life forever, she said. This incident is proof of that. Eight months later, we are still dealing with the consequences of the incident. My family and I have worked tirelessly to make this community a better place and we are ready to put this chapter of our lives behind us and move forward.
Melissa Edge said on the video that she had been drinking before the altercation began, but she denied that she was intoxicated. No charges were filed, and Senter did not write a report about the incident.
Senter told The Sun News last fall that police Capt. Rick Buddelmeyer - the acting public safety director at the time - told him not to write an incident report.
He [Buddelmeyer] said, We don't want the press to find out about this, Senter said.
Senter said his actions initially were cleared by supervisors, but he was fired after The Sun News and other media requested copies of the video. Senter had joined The Sun News and Bailey in the lawsuit to force the city to release the video. He withdrew from the lawsuit in November, however, saying he did not want the video released because it shows Melissa Edge in a mentally distressed state.
The Sun News learned that Senter withdrew from the lawsuit days after Melissa Edge had paid $660 for Senter's membership at the city's Aquatic and Fitness Center.
City spokesman Pat Dowling declined to discuss the video and the court case after the videos release.
The citys position is that the case is over, the video has been released as required by Judge Culbertsons ruling, and the matter is closed, Dowling said.