Up to 60 Virginia Beach drunk driving cases are in jeopardy after the arresting officer resigned. 20 of these cases have already been dropped after Officer Christopher Skinner failed to appear in court last Tuesday. The remaining 40 cases are being reviewed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.
Skinner resigned abruptly during an internal investigation of the Virginia Beach police department. According to spokeswoman Tonya Borman, “An administrative investigation was initiated by the police department. Mr. Skinner is no longer an employee of the City of Virginia Beach.” The department refused to comment further on Skinner’s departure, citing a number of Virginia Freedom of Information Act exemptions.
Despite the tight-lipped police policy, a number of sources have indicated that Skinner was in contact with the women he arrested and that these communications sometimes turned sexual. According to the sources, the messages Officer Skinner sent were at times “inappropriate, sexually harassing and persistent.”
Macie Pridgen, a spokeswoman for the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, said that the 40 remaining cases are in danger of being dropped. She also said that Skinner will not be called in as a witness due to questions over his credibility.
According to Virginia DUI lawyer Matthew Crowley, “it stands to reason that these cases may be dismissed due to the inappropriate conduct of the arresting officer. In Virginia, it’s very important for a law enforcement officer to have reasonable, articulable suspicion when initiating a DUI stop, and the actions of this individual suggest that certain ulterior motives may have been at play during multiple arrests.”
Skinner, a veteran of the Virginia Beach police, has been recognized for outstanding police work several times in the past. He received an award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for making 79 DUI arrests in 2013. He was also awarded a life-saving medal and a special commendation in 2012 and 2014, respectively.