NEWTON, N.C. -- A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper that was captured in a viral video driving the wrong way on Highway 321 Sunday afternoon has been placed on administrative duty, officials said Tuesday.
The man who shot the video claimed in a Facebook post the trooper was speeding the wrong way to stop a group of BMWs racing each other.
"He'd be much better off over here, even if he had to go down a mile to turn around and come back," a man in the car can be heard saying. "He's going to (expletive) kill himself or somebody else."
Highway Patrol confirmed it had seized five BMWs Sunday after troopers said they were racing each other. On Tuesday, Sergeant Michael Baker confirmed that Trooper TJ Williamson was placed on administrative duty pending an internal investigation by the Highway Patrol.
Baker said the agency is reviewing the circumstances surrounding what was shot in that video.
In less than eight hours, the video received almost 500,000 views. It was later removed from the social media site.
The incident happened less than a week after Highway Patrol released new guidelines on vehicle pursuits.
The agency bans troopers from traveling the wrong way on an interstate during a pursuit, but according to its guidelines: "...in extreme circumstances, a member may drive the wrong way on an interstate or divided highway, for a short distance, for the limited purpose of making a forced vehicle stop when deemed reasonably necessary to abate an imminently dangerous situation."
2 Wants To Know: What Are The Policies On Police Pursuits In The Triad?
In Greensboro, officers will end a chase if a driver goes the wrong way on a one-way street or divided highway.
Supervisors must approve the use of stop sticks, which are never used at curves, on bridges or anywhere where the public's safety could be in jeopardy.
GPD's territory stretches one mile outside the city limits - but officers can get authorization to continue chases beyond that boundary.
Greensboro police can continue chases into other counties - but they're not allowed to cross state lines.
The Guilford County Sheriff's office told us going after drivers, depends on several factors...like what the driver is wanted for, the surrounding traffic, speed, and road conditions.
The sheriff's office also said deputies will back off on chases, if it's too dangerous for other drivers or pedestrians.
Burlington Police tell us its policy is very restrictive.
Officers will continue chases involving suspects wanted for certain felonies including murder, and rape.
The department says its top priority is keeping *other drivers* safe.