Former trooper expected in court next month, charged with punching suspected DWI driver

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2018

SALISBURY — A former State Highway Patrol trooper assigned to Rowan County will face misdemeanor charges in court next month on accusations that he assaulted a man he had stopped on suspicion of driving while impaired.

Jeffrey Applewhite, who has since resigned, faces simple assault charges.

The DWI charge came in June 2017 when Applewhite said he found David Nixon, 45, asleep behind the wheel of his pickup. Nixon admitted being intoxicated and had a blood alcohol content of 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The case was dismissed about six months later for lack of evidence. Then Applewhite became the focus of the incident after a look at the trooper’s in-car camera footage showed him striking Nixon.

Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank told the Post that a request was made from the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office to have another DA handle the case because of a conflict of interest. The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts approved another district attorney taking the case.

“We investigated the facts and from this point forward will prosecute,” Frank said.

He said it’s still early in the case but he expects it to be handled April 5. The case is scheduled in District Court in Rowan County but will be prosecuted by a Davidson County assistant district attorney.

No local law enforcement agency investigated the case, Frank said.

“Due to the nature of what was given to us, I didn’t deem it necessary to have any agency investigate. We had our investigator and assistant district attorney ask specific questions of the victim, and he testified before a magistrate,” Frank said.

Nixon said the trooper punched him in the face twice while he was handcuffed and seat-belted in the trooper’s vehicle.

Highway Patrol officials confirmed that Applewhite resigned Feb. 9.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.