SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Capt. Bruce Thomas Gentry, 43, of the Smithfield Police Department, was found guilty last Tuesday of illegally passing a stopped school bus in December.
Gentry received a 45-day suspended sentence, The Herald reports. He was issued the traffic citation on Dec. 17, when witnesses say he drove his police cruiser past a bus that was stopped and had its red lights on.
Misty Ricard, the mother of a 10-year-old boy who was crossing the street to board the bus, said she had to yell her son's name to prevent him from stepping out in front of Gentry's car. Once Ricard's son had boarded the bus, she followed the car and wrote down the license plate number on a gum wrapper. She identified Gentry as the driver in court.
The bus driver, Melissa Spain, said she made a hand motion to signal the car to stop, but it didn't. She also said she had turned on the bus' flashing yellow warning lights 400 feet prior to stopping, according to The Herald.
Gentry told District Court Judge Andy Corbett that he thought the bus driver was waiting for him to pass before stopping, and that only the yellow lights were flashing when he passed.
Corbett rejected several attempts by Gentry's lawyer to have the charges dropped.
In January, police Chief Michael Scott said that he would take no disciplinary action against Gentry until he had his day in court. And any discipline would be minor, Scott added, saying the offense did not merit a demotion or firing, The Herald reports.