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Routine inspection results in career-ending injury

As he drove along the South Dakota highways last spring, truckdriver Robert Davis never suspected a routine inspection would change his life.

According to Davis, he, his wife Kathy and his stepdaughter were signaled into a Sturgis, SD rest area March 20 by a crew of inspectors using a van with portable scales.

Motor Carrier Enforcement Officer, David Zerbe allegedly found an inconsistency in Davis' logbook. Zerbe ran a check on Davis' CDL and found an outstanding fine for court costs against his record. Davis says he protested that the fine had already been paid and climbed into the truck to find a phone number, hoping to clear up the misunderstanding.

The trucker told Land Line that Zerbe ordered everyone out of the truck and said Mrs. Davis and the stepdaughter would have to stay at the rest area. Davis says he began to walk toward the phone to call his company and told Zerbe where he was going.

According to Davis, Zerbe pulled out a .41 caliber handgun and shot him once in the back.

Davis says an emergency team took him to Rapid City, SD, where he underwent an extensive operation to repair internal injuries and remove a damaged kidney.

The trucker says he was charged by State's Attorney Jennifer Utter, with resisting arrest and attempted escape.

Those charges were later changed to resisting service of process. Utter told Land Line that no further action is anticipated.

Prior to the shooting, the Davis family had been living in the truck. The trucker says he and his wife were saving to buy a house, so they had no place to live while he recuperated.

"Now, the doctors say I can never drive a truck again because I can't sit," says Davis.

He is currently living and working in Illinois at a factory for seven dollars an hour.

"I'm getting calls about bills and I just can't do anything about it," says Davis. "There are $50,000-$60,000 in bills waiting to be paid. I have no future without trucking."

Zerbe escaped criminal charges at the hands of a grand jury, but was released from duty after an internal review by the Highway Patrol.

David Muller, an agent for South Dakota's Department of Criminal Investigation, said Zerbe had been "terminated for policy infringements."

Highway Patrol Captain Myron Rau also verified that Zerbe's employment had been terminated, but could not provide a specific date.

"It was a long time ago," he said.

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