Kernersville police lieutenant fired after crash; charged with DWI, hit-and-run

KERNERSVILLE, N.C. -- A former Kernersville police lieutenant has been charged with DWI after troopers say he caused a series of collisions in an apartment complex parking lot.

"I heard a small bang and I happened to look around and I saw this individual weaving, like bouncing off cars,” witness Ronald Lemmons said.

At 7:04 a.m. Monday, investigators say John Franklin Bowman was in the parking lot off Smith Crossing Drive when he drove into three parked vehicles.

"It was just getting louder like crashes, boom, boom, boom,” Lemmons said.

Troopers say Bowman then kept going, ran off the road to the right, hit a traffic island and speed limit sign, then hit another three parked vehicles.

"He went around to the pool area and was wanting to get him a soft drink and actually pulled up on the curb,” Lemmons said. "The machine wouldn't take his dollar. So, it was obvious he was disoriented, and he was bleeding a little bit on his hand."

Some of the people whose vehicles were damaged didn’t realize anything had happened until they tried to leave the complex.

"My bumper came off, but overall the damage wasn't too bad,” Karissa Balbuena said.

When Balbuena departed for the day, she was under the impression the hit-and-run suspect hadn’t been caught.

"There's not anything I can do about it at this point, so there's no point in worrying and it's going to get taken care of, I'm really glad that they were able to find out who it was, I think I'm in a good mood because when I left this morning, I thought that this was going to be me covering it,” she said. “So, I'm really relieved to know that we know who did it."

Yet, the consolation Balbuena has found knowing the alleged reckless driver was caught does little to counteract the notion that someone who swore to protect the public was the one endangering them.

"To find out it's a police officer, that's really shocking, like it's really disappointing,” she said.

"Very low, because they're supposed to be the example and lead by example,” Lemmons echoed.

Troopers have charged Bowman with DWI, reckless driving and hit-and-run. All three of the charges are misdemeanors.

"You can look at the pictures of the vehicles and tell that he was moving at a high rate of speed,” Lemmons said. "The speed limit in this area is 8 mph and there's kids always playing."

Kernersville police confirmed Bowman was a lieutenant with their department. They say he was not on duty at the time, was in his personal vehicle and has been fired.

The press release from Kernersville police reads:

On 6/17/2019 at 7:04 a.m. Officers with the Kernersville Police Department responded to a call involving a hit and run of several vehicles. Upon arriving and assessing those involved, the Kernersville Police Department contacted the North Carolina Highway Patrol to investigate the incident.

Police Lieutenant John Bowman was off duty and operating his personal vehicle when he was subsequently charged with DWI, hit and run and careless and reckless driving by the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Bowman has since been terminated from the Kernersville Police Department.

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