Video shows state trooper run red light, narrowly avoid collision with Nashville school bus

The trooper did not realize his driving had been captured on video.
A video shows a state trooper running a red light and narrowly avoiding a collision with a Nashville school bus.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 6:12 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Video obtained by WSMV4 Investigates shows a Tennessee state trooper ran a red light in June in Nashville and narrowly missed colliding with a Metro Nashville school bus.

The internal investigative report shows the trooper, William Whitson, did not report the near crash and did not realize it had been recorded.

Video of the near collision shows on June 21, just after noon, a Metro Nashville school bus was entering the intersection of Anderson Lane and Myatt Drive, when a state trooper ran a red light, narrowly missing the bus and kept driving.

The investigative file shows that the Tennessee Highway Patrol learned about the near collision when a video of the incident appeared on Reddit.

Those who viewed the video on the social media site criticized the incident, writing, “If that bus hit that cop car this would be front page news” and “Could have been a terrible catastrophe. That trooper should pay!”

Video shows state trooper runs red light, narrowly avoids colliding with Nashville school bus

A spokesman for Metro School says no children were on the bus that day and that the bus driver did not write a report about the near collision.

When Whitson is questioned about the video, he said he did not know it had been recorded and identified himself as the driver. Whitson said he wasn’t looking at his phone and was unfamiliar with the area.

He also told an investigator with the Office of Professional Accountability with the Department of Safety that he was driving to have a license plate reader on his car and was looking for the turn. “I own it. I didn’t see the intersection,” Whitson said.

“Did you stop and check on anybody,” asked the state investigator.

“I slowed down. And when I saw the bus proceed, I went on,” Whitson said.

WSMV4 Investigates repeatedly asked for an interview with the THP and Whitson, but both declined.

In an email to WSMV4 investigates, a THP spokesman wrote in part, “Once the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security became aware of Trooper Whitson’s traffic violation, the department quickly opened an internal investigation. A thorough investigation was conducted and disciplined Trooper Whitson accordingly.”

According to the investigative report, Whitson was docked one day without pay.

Whitson’s file also shows in March, Whitson struck a concrete barrier in a parking lot, causing more than $800 in damages.

Whitson did report that concrete barrier crash, but did not report running the red light or the near collision.

In the internal interview, Whitson is told the video was now on social media. “It’s all over the internet,” the investigator said. “If you go online and look and comments and there are tons of them. They’re very aware that you’re a trooper and they’re aware that we’re about to get a big pay increase on July 1st, and a lot of folks aren’t happy because of that.”

“I imagine,” Whitson said. “That’s what I’m saying, I own it. I was in the wrong.”

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