News 2 has obtained new details in the incident involving an Assistant Fire Chief from the Charleston Fire Department.
According to a police report released Monday, Christopher Michael Vanhoy smelled of alcohol and was slurring his speech when officers pulled him over earlier this month. Those officers did not charge him with DUI. A passenger in the car told police on scene the two were at a wedding and admitted to drinking.
News 2’s I-Team requested a background check on Vanhoy and found past incidents with police. In 2001, he was charged twice for DUI and once for not stopping for blue lights.
In a statement to News 2, a spokesperson for the fire department wrote: “In light of the circumstances, the City has elected to wait until the appropriate authorities have addressed the criminal charges before resolving the matter internally. In the meantime, Vanhoy continues to be employed in the City’s Fire Department. He has been employed by the City since 1/28/1994.”
According to a spokesman at the Hanahan Police Department, on November 1, a driver called 911 to report a possible drunk driver. The concerned citizen reported they were following a maroon Nissan Titan on Railroad Avenue and it appeared the driver was under the influence.
When officers responded, they observed the driver driving left of center. After observing the traffic violation, the officer activated his blue lights to pull the truck over, but the driver didn’t stop. The officer then activated his siren, but the driver still didn’t stop. When the vehicle turned onto Meadowcliff Avenue, the officer used the public address system on his police car to order the driver to stop; again he failed to comply.
The officer also observed the driver open his door while the vehicle was in motion and police tell News 2, this is often an indicator that the occupant of a vehicle is contemplating “bailing” from the vehicle in order to flee on foot from police officers.
The driver finally stopped in the front yard of 6024 Meadowcliff Avenue and the driver began to exit the truck. The officers approached the vehicle with Tasers drawn and placed the driver under arrest.
While placing the driver under arrest, the officer detected the smell of alcohol and noticed other indicators that are common for someone who is under the influence of alcohol.
Considering the driver wouldn’t stop for the blue lights and indicated he was going to flee on foot from the vehicle while it was in motion, the arresting officer determined the driver was a flight risk and elected not to conduct the field sobriety tests, according to a spokesman for the police department. The officer subsequently charged the driver with Failure to Stop for Blue Lights and Driving Left of Center.
After the man was placed under arrest, he was identified as Christopher Michael Vanhoy of Hanahan. Officers later found he was currently employed by the Charleston Fire Department. Once it was discovered that Vanhoy was employed by the Charleston Fire Department, members of the Hanahan Police Department Command Staff were notified.
According to a spokesman at the police department, “The officer’s decision not to perform the sobriety testing had nothing to do with Mr. Vanhoy’s profession or his employer.”
Mr. Vanhoy was eventually transported to the Berkeley County Detention Center for a bond hearing and is currently awaiting trial.
The Hanahan Police Department forwarded a copy of the incident report to the Charleston Fire Department on November 5, 2015 in order to assist them with their internal investigation into the arrest of Mr. Vanhoy.