The case of the downtown wreck of Columbia’s Mayor-elect will stay with the Columbia police department.
Columbia Police Chief Tandy Carter held a press conference today to say his department will –not–relinquish the investigation into the early morning accident involving Steve Benjamin and Debra Rubins who is still in the hospital. Chief Carter says he is confident in the two investigators who are on the case.
We are going to make sure that the law is enforced both constitutionally and consistently throughout. When we do anything less than that, we open ourselves to liability criminally, or civilly. Ordinarily we have no protocol. Based on the police chief’s decision. I have decided not to relinquish that jurisdiction.
The highway patrol was called in right after the wreck to confirm results of a Breathalyzer. Benjamin was not found to be impaired. The rest of the details are still under investigation, says Chief Carter.
What Carter can say is that he has two men on the case with about 23 combined years of experience and only deal with accidents investigations. There were witnesses and the police may have to subpoena video camera footage from businesses in the area. They are not confirming whether Benjamin’s headlights were out – as has been reported by witnesses.
The police are not able to talk to Debra Rubens at this time, and cannot as long as she is under medication, says Carter.
Benjamin was driving a Mercedes SUV. Chief Carter of the Columbia Police Department says they are aided by a black box found in newer cars.
One thing that Chief Carter seems certain of at this point is that he sees no need to call in an outside agency to aid in the investigation. He is clear that this is not an investigation of soon-to-be-mayor Benjamin…but the facts of the accident.
All decisions involving police matters is a police chief decision. Now I will tell you that I leverage the partnership of all police agencies here. We have an option if we wanted to pursue it, and I’ve had long conversations over the last few days with our Department of Public Safety friends, and that’s an option, if I decide to pursue it, and I could make that request. We’re not there yet.
The hospital has not released any information about the condition of Rubens, but Benjamin has asked for prayers for her recovery.