Columbia officer draws weapon on Lt. Gov. at traffic stop - - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia officer draws weapon on Lt. Gov. at traffic stop

(Columbia) May 7, 2003 - Officer J.L. Vanhouten caught up with a vehicle shortly before noon Tuesday in the 1500 block of Assembly Street. Vanhouten says the car raced through two red lights at Calhoun and Assembly and Assembly and Blanding.

The officer says the driver, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, had been traveling at speeds up to 60 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone. Police say the 34-year-old Bauer pulled over about four blocks after a police officer tried to stop him.

In a police report, Vanhouten says once the vehicle was stopped Bauer ran back toward the patrol car in what Vanhouten says was "an aggressive manner." The Republican lieutenant governor says he was "in no way aggressive or threatening." Bauer says he would never threaten a police officer.

Unable to get out of his car in time, Vanhouten drew his service revolver and ordered the Bauer to stop and raise his hands. The report says the man complied, at which time, Vanhouten frisked Bauer.

It was only then that the officer recognized the lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant Governor Bauer was issued a ticket for reckless driving. Vanhouten saying Bauer's actions showed, quoting from the report, "a total disregard for public safety."

Bauer's Chief of Staff Randy Page issued a brief statement early Tuesday evening. In it, Bauer says he, "wants to be treated as any other citizen would be treated."

The Lieutenant Governor told WIS Tuesday evening he meant no harm, "My intention was just to go back and apologize and say, 'Hey, I apologize, I'm running late.' Looking back at it now I wish I hadn't gotten out of  the car. I can't tell you how horrified and actually trembling I was to have a firearm pulled on me on Assembly Street on my way to session. It definitely got my attention."

Bauer was on his way to the Senate, where he presides as president.

Police Chief and interim City Manager Charles Austin says police will conduct an internal investigation to determine whether the officer acted properly by drawing his gun.

Bauer has called a news conference at 2:30 Wednesday in the Lieutenant Governor's Office located in the State Capitol to address the stop.

Bauer himself has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The police report says the officer found no weapons when he frisked the Lieutenant Governor.  

By Jack Kuenzie
updated 12:13pm

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