Cops grab lawyer for whizzing on a tree

F’ville officers had tavern parking lot staked out at closing

A local attorney and leader in the Fayette County Republican Party was arrested early Sunday morning for public urination outside a bar in downtown Fayetteville.

David Studdard, 48, told The Citizen that he did urinate outside just before 2 a.m., but he was under the cover of trees and it was dark with no one else around at the time. Studdard, himself a former police officer and the husband of county Superior Court Clerk Sheila Studdard, said he was surprised that he was arrested on the charge instead of being given a citation.

“I was a cop for 20 years and I don’t think I ever took someone to jail on that charge unless there was a companion charge with it,” Studdard said.

Studdard said he had contact with several officers minutes prior to his arrest as they responded to the Olde Courthouse Tavern to investigate a report of a fight on the premises. Studdard said he was not involved in the fight, but he cooperated with the officers and answered their questions

Studdard said after speaking with the officers, he spoke with another person in the area before heading to his truck in the rear parking lot of the tavern. While on the way, Studdard said he saw a former client who he felt was in no shape to drive home, and he offered her a ride home or a chance to call a cab or a friend to pick her up.

Before they had a chance to do that however, Studdard went to relieve himself and after coming back to his truck noted the same group of police officers who had responded to the fight had reappeared and decided to take him to jail on the public urination charge.

Studdard said he asked one of the officers if he could speak with a supervisor because he didn’t understand why that offense warranted going to jail. That same officer, however, was the supervisor, Studdard noted, adding that he complied with the officers as they arrested him and transported him to the Fayette County Jail.

Studdard noted that he did not expose himself to anyone else during the incident, and that had he stayed home to watch the ACC championship football game instead of the going to the tavern, the incident wouldn’t have happened.

While he had initially planned to pay the court fine without challenging it, he admits to being curious about how many times Fayetteville police arrest suspects who are charged solely with a misdemeanor count of public urination.

At least one of the officers was watching the Tavern parking lot area when he was parked across the street in the county government complex parking lot, Studdard said. That was because police were watching some other people who had left the Tavern and were too intoxicated to drive, and officers wanted to make sure they did not get behind the wheel, according to police spokesman Steve Crawshaw.

When the officers approached Studdard’s vehicle, they were worried he might try to drive off, and so ultimately he was arrested for the charge of public urination, Crawshaw said.

Studdard also recalled that about two weeks ago he had cross-examined one of the officers in a DUI case in municipal court, but he couldn’t say that had anything to do with why he was arrested instead of issued a citation.

“It’s the first time in my 48 years that I’ve ever been arrested for anything,” Studdard said.