Sworn statement: Former commissioner was driving when officer suspected she’d been drinking
NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A sworn statement from the passenger riding with then Nolensville Commissioner Lisa Garramone on Oct. 17, 2020, claims she was driving just before an officer suspected she was drunk.
Garramone has long claimed, and swore under oath, that she was not driving that night because she’d been drinking.
Instead, she said she was a passenger in the seat behind the driver.
But a declaration from Juan Alvarez submitted as part of an ongoing legal dispute between Garramone and four men claims that then commissioner drove that night in her SUV and he rode as a passenger.
Dash and police body camera video shows an officer later suspecting Garramone was drunk that night but did not arrest her.
On the night of Oct. 17, 2020, the video shows Nolensville police had responded to a car accident when another car pulled into a nearby driveway.
Body camera video from the officers show a woman walks out of the driver’s side of the car in the driveway and approaches the officers.
“What’s going on?” the woman asks.
In the footage, the woman introduces herself as Lisa, asks if anyone needs help, and then tells the driver of the wrecked car that she is a commissioner.
While talking to officers, she also says who she was speaking to earlier in the evening.
“I was talking to Chief Parker earlier tonight,” Garramone says in the video.
After she walked away, one of the officers makes a comment only the other officer could hear.
“Commissioner or not, tell the chief the next time she’s drinking and driving I’m arresting her,” the officer says.
According to an internal ethics investigation – one of the officers believed that Garramone was intoxicated.
A WSMV4 investigation exposed how officers thought Garramone was receiving preferential treatment by Parker.
Previous reporting also showed that Garramone and the then Nolensville vice mayor, had their traffic tickets fixed by police chief Roddy Parker.
In the ethics investigation into both the alleged preferential treatment and the ticket fixing, the officer told the ethics investigator that had he seen commissioner drive, he would have arrested her.
The ethics investigation showed there is no proof that Garramone was drinking.
“I offered my car to be driven, but I did not drive it myself. I rode as a passenger, because I had been drinking,” Garramone later said in a public meeting. “Did I drive that night? No.”
The investigation read that Garramone would identify who was riding in the car that night at a later date.
Yet the town attorney, who conducted the ethics investigation, said she never provided the names.
The body camera footage only shows one person stepping out of the car and walking away.
WSMV4 Investigates asked Garramone in November 2022 about why she had never disclosed the names of the people she referenced riding in the car, including the person who stepped out of the car.
“You have yet to say who you were riding with that night that the officer suspected you were driving drunk. The town’s attorney tells me that he asked you to provide it, and yet you still haven’t. Why?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.
“The reason I have not provided that information is that giving out the name of a private citizen will have them go through all of what I’ve gone through with all of this being on the news. If this goes to court, and we have to solve through this process, then I will deal with that at that time,” Garramone said.
Alvarez’s sworn statement was filed by an attorney representing former commissioner Jason Patrick.
Patrick, who filed an open records request for the videos, was later sued, along with three other men, by Garramone for casting her in a false light.
Garramone accused the men of spreading rumors that he was a drunk driver and swore under oath that she wasn’t driving.
Patrick told WSMV4 Investigates last year that when he heard about the claims that Garramone was receiving preferential treatment, he wanted to see the videos for himself.
“It’s different than a speeding ticket. It’s different than a taillight. This is a behavior that’s potentially dangerous to other people in the community,” Patrick said in our 2022 interview.
Patrick and the three other men filed responses to the lawsuit, claiming no wrongdoing and disputing Garramone’s claims.
Court records show after she lost her re-election campaign, Garramone attempted to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
But Patrick, along with Dr. Joe Curtsinger, who is also being sued by Garramone, asked that a judge award them court costs and attorney fees.
Curtsinger said the Alvarez’s statement challenges Garramone’s claims.
“Now you’ve got an actual witness in a car,” Curtsinger said.
“It is going to be a ‘he said, she said.’ If that’s the case, who do we believe?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.
“I think you’ve got the video evidence, the people there, and we would have to go into more discovery,” Curtsinger said.
When contacted about the Alvarez’ sworn statement, Garramone referenced our questions to her attorney, but he did not return our call.
WSMV4 Investigates also reached out to Alvarez by phone and at his home, but he did not respond.
A hearing is set on the lawsuit for March 9, 2023.
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