Officer’s sudden resignation jeopardizes 60 drunk-driving cases

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Virginia Beach, Va. - The fallout from the sudden and unexplained resignation of a Virginia Beach police officer is far worse than 10 dropped drunk-driving cases officials previously disclosed.

A NewsChannel 3 investigation shows prosecutors had to drop another 10 cases days later, and there are about 40 more drunk-driving arrests in jeopardy.

Many of the drivers who have gone free, or soon will, once faced mandatory jail time for high alcohol levels. Several others were being prosecuted as repeat offenders. And more than 100 drivers who got routine traffic tickets will likely see their cases dropped, according to court officials.

All of this is because an officer who last year won an award for targeting drunk drivers, suddenly quit the police department amid an internal investigation. A spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said Officer Christopher D. Skinner was scheduled to testify in 11 DUI cases on Aug. 11. That morning, they found out he had quit. Ten of the cases were dropped. One driver didn't show up to court.

Court records show in the next few days, another 10 drunk-driving cases were dropped. NewsChannel 3 checked all of Skinner's court dates through September and found there are more than 40 other accused drunk drivers scheduled for court dates with him. Macie Pridgen, the Commonwealth's Attorney's spokeswoman, said prosecutors are considering what options remain.

In cases where Skinner was the sole arresting officer where he made the stops and administered the drunk-driving tests, Pridgen said those cases are likely washouts. If other officers were present for the arrests, she said prosecutors will decide if they can go forward.

Police will not say why Skinner resigned or why he was under investigation. A police spokeswoman said in addition to the award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Skinner has received a life-saving medal and a special commendation from the police department.

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