By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON – A special judge Monday found Okolona Assistant Police Chief Ramona Robertson guilty on three counts and dismissed a fourth.
Judge Ernest Cunningham, from Marshall County, fined Robertson $600 plus court costs after hearing testimony all day surrounding her Dec. 7, 2012, arrest by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
After the trial, Chickasaw County Prosecutor Elizabeth Ausborn and District Attorney Ben Creekmore expressed their thanks for the verdict, saying public safety was key to the case.
Robertson was found guilty of driving under the influence, speeding and failure to comply with law enforcement officers. She was found not guilty of possession of the controlled substance, hydrocodone, without a prescription.
“Simply put, the state has met its burden of proof,” Creekmore said in his closing remarks. “She put herself and others in danger by driving the patrol car, under influence and in possession of hydrocodone.”
Cunningham heard from a parade of witnesses including two state troopers, who turned on their vehicle blue lights to bring Robertson to the side of Highway 32 as she drove home an assigned Okolona police patrol car.
Officers swore she was driving erratically, driving at one point at 77 mph in a 55 mph zone and emotionally unstable when they tried to conduct field sobriety tests.
Videos from the arrest scene showed a clearly upset Robertson, who repeatedly failed the troopers’ tests, then refused to submit to a hospital blood test.
In her defense, Robertson testified at length about her serious medical conditions and the long list of medications she was prescribed, especially for severe back pain caused from an on-the-job injury.
Her attorney, Edward Lancaster, took her through the series of videos to elicit her explanations of why she behaved the way she did.
“I told them … I said I can’t do that,” she said about failing to complete roadside movements to prove she was not impaired. “I got a bulging disc on my left, two disintegrating. No way I can walk a straight line.”
She also insisted she never took pain medication unless she really needed it, although District Attorney Ben Creekmore never got a satisfactory answer from her about large quantities of the drug prescribed to her in the months leading up to her arrest.
Robertson, wearing her police uniform, said she had been relieved of her “light duty” and was on full-time medical leave from the force.