Police dash camera video released in former Atlantic Beach mayor's arrest

troot@thesunnews.comJuly 16, 2014 

Former Atlantic Beach mayor Retha Pierce Sturdivant was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a charge of driving while her license is suspended, according to authorities.

Horry County police charged Sturdivant because her license was suspended after she was convicted May 30 of driving under the influence in Conway and sentenced to 48 hours community service.

The 65-year-old was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center at 3:19 p.m. and released at 4:56 p.m. Tuesday on $652.50 bail, according to jail records.

An Horry County police officer on patrol was alerted to Sturdivant, who was driving a Jeep along S.C. 319 near S.C. 22 at 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, by an Horry County Fire Rescue employee who had been behind her.

The fire employee told the officer that he “had been behind the vehicle for several miles and observed the vehicle weaving back and forth in its lane of travel, hitting the brakes constantly and then accelerating,” according to the police report. The officer stopped Sturdivant and she told him she had sleep apnea and was tired.

The officer noted he smelled an odor of alcohol from the vehicle, but Sturdivant denied having anything to drink, according to the report. The officer had Sturdivant perform a field sobriety test and she was not under the influence.

When the officer checked Sturdivant’s license, it showed her insurance had been canceled and her licnese was suspended from a DUI, according to the report. When the officer went to arrest Sturdivant she initially resisted and then later complained several times the handcuffs were too tight.

Sturdivant also told the officer “her DUI conviction was in appeals and that [he] was not allowed to arrest her,” according to the report. Sturdivant also threatened to name the officer in her lawsuits.

A Conway jury convicted Sturdivant of DUI following a trial that stemmed from her being arrested in January 2012 by a Conway police officer. Sturdivant has appealed the conviction and that appeal is pending, according to court records.

According to Conway court officials at the time of her conviction, after a jury found Sturdivant guilty of DUI, she was allowed to choose between the community service and a fine of $997. Municipal Judge Andy Hendrick said she must complete the community service with any nonprofit by July 1, according to the court.

It is unclear if Sturdivant has completed her community service.

A charge of driving under the influence was filed against Pierce by Conway police on Jan. 9, 2012. She requested the jury trial.

At the time of that arrest, Pierce said she was set up and officials were conspiring against her because of her position in the town of Atlantic Beach.

She was mayor at the time as a result of pending appeals of a special election in which Councilman Jake Evans defeated her by a vote of 79 to 5. Evans has since been sworn in as the town's mayor.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.

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