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Kingsport alderman charged with DUI

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Jun 03 2013 10:22:32 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 02 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

A member of Kingsport's Board of Mayor and Aldermen was booked into the city jail after an officer says he was driving under the influence.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

A Kingsport civic leader faces time behind bars after police said he was driving under the influence.

We've learned Kingsport alderman Elmer Jantry Shupe was arrested early Sunday morning and is charged with a DUI and other charges.  

According to Kingsport mayor Dennis Phillips, Elmer Jantry Shupe has been an alderman for eight years in Kingsport, but early around 12:45 Sunday morning, officers pulled him over for allegedly posing a danger to the city he serves.

Kingsport police said it started when the car he was driving wouldn't move over for a cruiser while it was using lights and sirens on its way to a call. "While the officer was trying to get by, he observed some sort of erratic driving form the vehicle, swerving side to side. At this point, he suspected the driver might be under the influence," said Tom Patton with the Kingsport Police Department.

A police report states Shupe eventually parked his car at Brandy Mills Apartments. The report went on to say that when the officer asked for information, Shupe asked, "Don't you know who I am?”

The police report states Shupe told officers he was coming from his office and the restaurant Biggies, where he said he had one beer. The report also said he told officers he had two glasses of wine before coming to the restaurant.

An officer said in the report, there was also a cup inside the car with what smelled like alcohol inside.

Patton told News 5, at this time, police don't know Shupe's blood alcohol level when he was pulled over. "Mr. Shupe did not perform any field sobriety tests, and he also refused to consent to a blood or breath test for alcohol," said Patton.

Ctizens told News 5 they're disappointed to hear these allegations. "He's a leader. He's supposed to be setting an example for the rest of the people he serves," said J.D. Bacon.

Kristy Sturgile said, "He should be treated like all the rest of us. [There] should not be [any] difference."

Kingsport's mayor, Dennis Phillips said his thoughts are with Shupe and his family. "I will say for approximately eight years, Alderman Shupe has served the city well, and it's most unfortunate that something like this would happen to him. I just hope it's an isolated event," said Phillips.

We asked Phillips about Shupe's future in office if he's convicted of his charges. Phillips told us, "he is a member of this board until he resigns or the next election, and he could still be a member if he's re-elected."

It's simply time that will tell.

Shupe is charged with driving under the influence, failing to move over for lights and sirens, and violation of the implied consent.

Court officials said he is out on a $2,000 bond, and an attorney waived his arraignment. He is scheduled to be back in court on August 15.

Of course, News 5 did reach out to Shupe by phone and email to hear his side of the story. So far we have had no response.