COLUMBIA — A Columbia police officer resorted to seizing Sen. Chuck Graham’s urine from a University Hospital room Saturday night after the senator repeatedly refused to allow police to test Graham’s breath or blood for alcohol content, according to an incident report released Wednesday.
Earlier, Graham, D-Columbia, at the scene of the crash police said he caused, claimed that his “paralyzation problem” made it impossible for him to undergo the sobriety tests. Specifically, he told police he could not move his eyes from side to side without moving his head, according to the report.
Graham uses a wheelchair as a result of a car accident that left him partially paralyzed when he was 16.
He was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and operating a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner in connection with the crash at the intersection of Green Meadows Road and Bethel Street. According to the report, his injuries consisted of a bruise on his arm.
Graham insisted that he needed medical assistance while waiting in the breath-testing room of the police department, Officer Donald Weaver writes in the 17-page report. Weaver notes that he read Graham the implied consent statement several times for permission to take the test, and Graham responded, “I’m not refusing anything. I need to go to the hospital.”
Weaver called for a paramedic to transport Graham to University Hospital and continued to ask, “no less than six times” whether Graham would submit to the chemical test of his breath. After Weaver prepared the Breathalyzing machine with a sterile mouthpiece, Graham continued to state that he needed medical assistance. Weaver then warned Graham that his statements constituted refusal under Missouri law, the report states.
The license of a driver who refuses a Breathalyzer or other chemical test is automatically suspended for 30 days, according to a Missouri statute. The driver can lose his license for up to a year.
Even after being transported to University Hospital, Graham refused to be given a blood test, again citing his need for medical assistance. Weaver asked several more times and pleaded with Graham to, “answer with either a yes or no,” the report states. Graham finally replied, “no.”
According to the report, Weaver met with resistance from Graham’s attorney, Robert A. Murray, a University Hospital physician, Scott Schultz, whom Graham apparently knows, and at least two nurses when he seized a bag of Graham’s urine as evidence.
“Schultz was angry,” Weaver writes in the report. “His fists were clentched (sic) and the muscles in his forearms were flexed. His voice got progressively louder. He began pointing his finger at me as he continued to yell at me and order me to relinquish custody of my evidence.”
As Weaver attempted to leave the room, he was confronted by security guards and again as he tried to leave the emergency room.
Mary Jenkins, a spokeswoman for University Hospital, defended hospital staff in an e-mail sent to the Missourian Wednesday.
"Our staff followed the appropriate procedures," she writes. "Our responsibility is to provide medical care for our patients and respect their privacy."
Graham has served in the legislature for 11 years — eight years in the House and three years in the Senate. He represents the 24th District.