Updated 08/01/2012 10:06 AM
Georgia trucker accused of seriously injuring Durham officer appears in court Tuesday
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DURHAM – A man from Georgia, Charles Caldwell was accused of crashing into a Durham police officer's car and seriously injuring her last week. He made his first appearance Tuesday morning in a Durham County courtroom.
Caldwell, 44, was arrested Monday for felonious serious injury while impaired, but his attorney said that Durham police failed to properly investigate the case. He also said that his client wasn't impaired but suffered a medical emergency.
Caldwell was driving an 18-wheeler last week when he smashed into Veteran Officer Teresa Gilliam's unmarked cruiser as she pulled another vehicle over on Interstate 85. Court records, show that Caldwell was weaving all over the road and driving 70 mph in a 60 mph zone.
Investigators wrote that he had droopy eyes and slurred speech, had a hard time following instructions and appeared to fall asleep. A blood sample was then taken for chemical analysis before Caldwell was taken to the hospital.
At the time he was charged with a number of violations, but his later arrest for the felony DWI sparked his attorney Bill Thomas to speak out. Thomas said that blood tests taken at the hospital following the accident show no impaired substances in Caldwell's system and that he was instead having a medical event.
Thomas said that the charges against his client are false and said that Durham police have an unfortunate history of charging people with serious crimes without serious investigation.
"What happened was a genuine tragedy, but charging an innocent man to a crime he didn't commit, only compounds the tragedy," said Thomas.
Officer Gilliam suffered broken ribs, a brain injury and injuries to her spine and back. However, Durham police said that her condition is improving. Caldwell is out after posting bond. His attorney said that he's heading back to Georgia to seek medical treatment, but he will be back in court for a hearing on September 19.
News 14 has reached out to Durham police for a comment on Thomas' allegations. A spokesperson said, "Our officers are conducting a thorough investigation in this case. We have no further comment due to the pending court case."