ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL … IF YOU’RE FAMOUS
By Colleen MacMillan || According to then-Pickens, S.C. Police Corporal Mike McClatchy, the Ford F-150 that Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney used to speed 63 miles per hour through a 35 miles per hour zone earlier this month is registered to Leader Ford in Seneca, S.C. – a dealership the Clemson football coach is ostensibly a “spokesperson.”
This cozy relationship represents yet another layer to the traffic stop story that keeps unfolding.
There’s no shortage of speculation as to whether Swinney was treated fairly in this situation. All that’s clear is that he and his brother got off easy. It’s the officer who pulled him over who’s out of a job. The question on everyone’s mind is why … well, that and why Swinney’s Tigers are once again surrendering touchdowns in rapid succession.
Before we tell you what the Pickens, S.C. police department had to say on this story, let’s briefly review the public documents the agency is sending in compliance with this website’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
According to a cover letter from the department, its submission will include the (already leaked) patrol car video, a copy of Corporal McClatchy’s dismissal form, a statement from police chief Rodney Gregory regarding the incident and a copy of the traffic citation. The city will not be sending a copy of the letter Swinney allegedly sent them regarding the incident because (according to them) they don’t have it anymore.
At the beginning of this website’s investigation into this traffic stop, the Pickens police department confirmed that FITS was the first media outlet to request information regarding Swinney’s traffic stop. Shortly thereafter, though, we were told that the city was planning on waiting the maximum fifteen days permitted by law to handle our FOIA request.
Apparently, the city made a calculated decision to leak the dash cam (and other information?) to other media outlets.
Since we broke this story, it has been followed by the likes of ESPN, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. It was also mentioned during ABC’s national broadcast of Saturday night’s Clemson-Florida State game.
Clearly the city of Pickens – whose mayor is accused of intervening during the traffic stop on Swinney’s behalf – didn’t appreciate all of that negative attention. So they leaked the information they had to friendlier sources.
“Our opinion is that there is no story,” said Travis Riggs, the city’s assistant chief.
Most would beg to differ. Not only was Swinney traveling at nearly twice the posted speed limit at the time he was pulled, but he and his brother ignored the officers’ instructions to remain in their vehicle during the traffic stop and conspired with local officials to try and strong-arm the officer out of writing a ticket.
In an interview held after McClatchy’s dismissal, Riggs noted that the corporal “broke a lot of (their) policies.” He would not articulate whether or not McClatchy’s self-published blog post defending his handling of the incident had anything to do with his firing.
We want to hear from Mike McClatchy. Now is really his chance to clear the air. There are some who would argue the former officer got himself into this mess. Others might respond with a First Amendment argument – to which others might argue that McClatchy violated his ethical standards.
Without knowing the exact circumstances, we’re sure there will be no shortage of attorneys feasting over this case in the months to come.
And since Swinney’s Tigers got blown out in their Top Ten showdown in Tallahassee, expect the conversation surrounding this incident to continue.
Colleen MacMillan is a reporter/ columnist for FITSNews. Reach her at email@example.com.