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Court dismisses DUI case against former top SC National Guard officer

By LUCAS DAPRILE | The State | Published: January 20, 2021

(Tribune News Service) — A driving under the influence case against a former top officer in the S.C. National Guard has been dismissed.

Sgt. Maj. Russ Vickery had been charged with DUI after an officer with the Cayce Department of Public Safety found him unconscious in his car inside his apartment complex, according to a previous article from The State.

Vickery's attorney, Stanley Myers of the Moore Taylor Law Firm, and Cayce Municipal Court Assistant Clerk of Court Justin Wise confirmed the case has been dismissed. Cayce Municipal Court records are not available online.

Before the DUI charge, Vickery — a 37-year veteran of the National Guard — held the position of Command Sergeant Major and was considered one of the top-ranking enlisted officers in the Army and Air National Guard for South Carolina. In late September, Vickery was removed from his command position as a result of the DUI arrest, but still holds the rank of sergeant major.

U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Thomas replaced Vickery following the charges and will remain as the "interim command senior enlisted leader" for the S.C. National Guard until the next leader is officially selected, S.C. National Guard Spokeswoman Capt. Jessica Donnelly said in an email.

The case was dismissed because of "a lack of evidence," Myers told The State.

Myers did not dispute Vickery was intoxicated inside his car the night he was arrested on Sept. 4. A police report following the arrest said Vickery had in his system a "few" whiskey drinks, prescription medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, a sleep aid and the opioid hydrocodone for pain following a then-recent surgery.

Rather, Myers said there was no evidence Vickery actually drove the car. The police officer who responded did not see him drive, nor did any of his neighbors, Myers said. No surveillance cameras at his apartment complex, the Advenir at One Eleven apartments in West Columbia, caught him driving, Myers said.

"There was never any evidence he was driving his car," Myers said.

The police report alleged Vickery's car was in drive and that his foot was on the brake when police found him. Myers said the car was not in drive and there was no evidence to show that it was.

The police report and Myers paint different pictures of why Vickery was in his car that night. According to the police report, Myers told police he was taking trash from his house to the dumpster (his car was found near a dumpster).

According to Myers, Vickery had been taking a walk after giving his wife, who was suffering from cancer, her medicine and decided to stop in his car "to clear his mind" before returning home.

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