NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - One of the victims of a Newport News detective's road rage says he was held at gunpoint.
Detective Michael Poole, 58, is charge with brandishing a firearm. The two victims, who were traveling in the same vehicle, say Poole threatened to kill them Sept. 6 after they switched lanes in front of him on Jefferson Avenue.
Michael White, 27, says he and a co-worker, James Powell, were headed to the Olive Garden around 1 p.m.. White says the driver of the Black Dodge Ram driving behind him looked visibly upset after he thought White's vehicle cut him off.
"I saw him do like a fist pump, you know, as if he was going to do something to me," White siad.
White says the driver sped up, laid on the horn and followed them for two miles to their destination. White says he circled the Olive Garden restaurant, and the other driver followed him before both came to a stop in the parking lot.
"I got out of the car and asked him what his problem was and he said, 'I don't have a [expletive] problem,' and I said, 'Well you followed me to Olive Garden.'"
White says he asked the man to leave. He claims the man responded with comments such as, 'Make me' and mentioned, 'It's two against one.'
"That's when he put his gun at the window," said White. "He said, 'If I get out the vehicle, I'm going to pop a cap."
White says the barrel of the gun was pointed at he and Powell.
When the man drove off, the victims followed him from a couple car lengths back and called 911. Police responded promptly, pulled the truck over and began investigating. But after 30 minutes and no arrest, the victims began to ask an officer questions.
"'Why am I just sitting here and the guy is sitting in the front of the police car, not in the back seat?'" White asked the officer. "And at that point, she said, 'We are waiting on his sergeant.'"
The driver, a plain clothes detective who was on duty, was driving an unmarked police-issued vehicle, the police chief confirmed Wednesday. Police spokesman Lou Thurston told WAVY.com Tuesday that the gun was not issued by department.
We took White's concerns to Police Chief James Fox, who says the department is taking the allegations seriously, conducting criminal and internal investigations. Fox addressed how the situation affects public trust in the department.
"When one of our people does something wrong, it does affect trust," said Fox. "And we have to dig into that trust account that we put money in everyday to help us get through situations like this."
Fox has the discretion to decide Poole gets paid while suspended, which as of Wednesday, he was. White's lawyer is asking for stronger punishment.
"What does an officer have to do for it to be unpaid leave? This is perhaps the most egregious things this officer could have done short of pulling the trigger," said Michael Jenkins, the attorney representing White and Powell.
As for White, he says his trust in the department is broken.
"I was always the one, if something's going wrong [saying] 'Let's call the police,'" he said. 'Now I don't know who to call."
Poole has been on the force for 27 years. He is assigned to the intelligence unit, which is why WAVY.com did not show his picture. He is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
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