A U.S. Secret Service agent is on paid administrative leave after being taped speeding on Interstate 77 and a two-lane road in southern Mecklenburg County.
The May 20 incident was recorded by another motorist, who says a Dodge Charger first quickly drove behind his car. He said he began filming it after he noticed lights inside the vehicle resembling those used by law enforcement. He later posted two videos of the incident on YouTube, but took them down Thursday.
The motorist, who asked that his name not be used, acknowledges that he also was speeding at the time. But he criticized what he called reckless driving by the motorist in the other vehicle.
“If I’m driving that way, I deserve a ticket,” the driver said. “If he’s driving that way and cutting people off in a police vehicle, then he doesn’t need to be driving a police vehicle.”
The incident was first reported by NewsChannel 36, the Observer’s news partner; the station was contacted by the driver who made the videos.
In one of the clips, a speeding Dodge Charger can be seen weaving across lanes on I-77 near the Tyvola Road interchange and then apparently engaging in a form of high-speed “tag” with a van.
At one point, the driver of the Dodge Charger can be seen pulling in front of the van and then slamming on his brakes. Moments later, after getting behind the van, the driver turns on his blue lights and pulls the van over – only to race around the van and speed off.
The Charger then veers onto the ramp for the outer loop of Interstate 485, headed toward Pineville.
NewsChannel 36 reported this week that an official with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles said the license plate on the Dodge Charger belonged to a law enforcement agency, though officials said state law prohibited them from naming it.
But after reporter Stuart Watson contacted additional agencies, including the state Attorney General’s Office, the Secret Service issued a statement Wednesday saying the Charger was one of its vehicles.
In a statement, the agency said the car was being operated by one of its employees who was on duty at the time.
The employee, who officials have declined to publicly name, was placed on administrative leave. The case also was referred to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, according to a statement from Russell Nelson, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Charlotte.
The timetable for the investigation was not clear.
Staff writer Steve Lyttle and Stuart Watson contributed.