Former police officer sentenced in speeding, eluding

Former police officer sentenced in speeding, eluding

By Heather Michon, correspondent

A former Richmond police officer charged with speeding in excess of 80 mph and eluding police in a late-night incident on Route 600 in January was sentenced in Fluvanna County Circuit Court on Thursday (July 12) after entering into a plea agreement with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Travis Scott Dooley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of reckless driving and eluding. These charges were reduced from felony counts under the terms of the plea agreement.

According to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Todd Shockley, on Jan. 7 at around 1 a.m., Sgt. Craig Martin of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office was manning a radar on Route 600 (South Boston Road) when Dooley passed him at a clocked speed of 77 mph. Martin turned on his lights and pulled onto the road, but rather than pulling over, Dooley sped up to 80 mph as he continued up the road.

Martin momentarily lost sight of Dooley, but was flagged down by an unnamed passenger heading in the opposite direction, who told him Dooley was hiding behind a building somewhere near the CVS and the Dollar General. He was taken into custody moments later.

Dooley’s attorney painted a portrait of a man under enormous stress at the time of the incident. Less than a month before his arrest, Dooley was on patrol with the Richmond Police Department (RPD) when he came under fire during the chase of a suspect in a drive-by shooting.

Dooley returned fire, striking the suspect in the leg. He then gave the suspect emergency aid while waiting for an ambulance.

The attorney asked Judge Melvin R. Hughes to view bodycam footage of the shooting incident “to show what kind of a person the defendant is.” After some consideration, Hughes declined.

Dooley was on paid administrative leave when the speeding incident occurred. Shortly after his arrest in Fluvanna, he left the RPD. Today, Dooley is living with his mother in Montgomery County and shuttling vehicles for a transport service.

A letter submitted to the court from his therapist shows he is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Travis is my lifeline at the moment,” his mother, Susan Smith, said on the witness stand. She testified he has been her primary source of emotional support following the deaths of her father and husband in recent months.

Shockley argued that Dooley’s status as a police officer was “a double-edged sword.” He deserved credit for his exemplary behavior during the Richmond shooting incident, but his behavior on Jan. 7 had endangered the life of another law enforcement officer, along with anyone else who had been on the road at the time. “He used his government training [in high-speed driving] to endanger other human beings,” he said.

“We believe this is a jailable offense,” he added, asking for a sentence of no less than 30 days.

Dooley’s attorney countered that “because he has special training, it was less dangerous [to drive at high speed] than for other people.” She argued that active jail time was not appropriate given the specifics of her client’s case.

Hughes sentenced Dooley to three months in jail on each sentence, suspending all but 20 days. He will also have a year of supervised probation and pay $400 in fines. His driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days on each charge, but after some debate on the wording of the applicable law, Hughes ruled that those sentences could run concurrently, or at the same time.

Dooley was ordered to report to jail to begin his sentence July 27.

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