'I hate this county. I prayed to God that he would curse it': Footage shows DUI arrest of congressional candidate

Steven Foster

Editor's note: Some of the language in this story may be offensive to some readers.

The Democratic congressional candidate who was found guilty this week of DUI challenged the officers who stopped him to a fight, demanded samples of his blood be sent to the headquarters of the CIA and told officers he prayed that God would curse Whitfield County, dash cam footage of his arrest shows.

In nearly two hours of video and related audio recordings documenting Steven Lamar Foster’s arrest, the trip to Hamilton Medical Center for blood tests and his booking into the Whitfield County jail, Foster at times speaks to the officers in Spanish, blames Gulf War Syndrome on the use of uranium in weapons in the First Gulf War and tells the story of putting a Central American man’s head on a spike.

Foster, of Dalton, is running against Republican incumbent Tom Graves of Ranger for the 14th Congressional District seat. Foster was arrested for DUI, a misdemeanor, by the Dalton Police Department on Sept. 23, 2017. He was found guilty by a jury on Monday after 15 minutes of deliberation and is in the Whitfield County jail. Sentencing before Judge Cindy Morris is set for Tuesday.

“I hope you got s---loads of audio because I want a copy of it on a FOIA,” Foster said to the officers. “You know what that is? That’s a Freedom of Information Act.”

The footage was obtained by the Daily Citizen-News through an open records request to the Dalton Police Department.

According to District Attorney Bert Poston, tests by the state crime lab on the blood drawn from Foster indicated a .107 blood alcohol content level. The legal limit in Georgia is .08, and at the scene of the stop, deputies recorded a breathalyzer reading of .103.

Foster was driving, with his wife Elizabeth Leitch in the front passenger seat, when they were pulled over by an officer when the vehicle was spotted without headlights on West Walnut Avenue at 2:20 in the morning, according to a police incident report.

Dash cam video shows Foster exiting the vehicle. Officer Justin Smith performs a standard field sobriety eye test.

About 10 minutes into the video, Officer John Edwards returns to the cruiser and activates his microphone as Smith begins giving instructions to Foster on a nine-step, walk-and-turn exercise. Foster starts counting in Spanish as the officer gives him instructions. Foster appears to have a hard time maintaining his balance and is given the instructions several times.

Next, Foster is asked to perform a test standing on one leg and holding the other leg in the air for a count of 10. Foster makes the count to eight and then begins alternating feet, speaking in Spanish and English.

While Smith is administering the test, Edwards speaks with Leitch.

“I should be driving,” she said. “I should have been driving. I mean, he sounds so talkative I feel. I mean we really haven’t had that much to drink.”

Both said they had drinks at dinner earlier that night at a local restaurant, and Leitch said Foster takes medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The incident report said Foster agreed to a breathalyzer test and registered a reading of .103 on a second attempt. When Smith tells Foster he is going to have to arrest him, Foster demands to have blood tests done.

“Would you do blood work? Would you take me to Hamilton (Medical Center) so that they do accurate work? I want blood work,” Foster said. “I don’t want no bulls---. I want absolute blood work and then I want copies of it sent to MedNow because we’ve been working for the county for years. My God, ladies. What we going to do, ladies?”

Foster is the CEO of MedNow, an urgent care facility in Dalton on Airport Road, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The registered agent of the business is Gary Crews. At one point, Foster tells the officers to contact Crews, a member of the City Council. Crews did not immediately return a phone message left for him Thursday evening.

“Go right ahead, I’ve had them pinched before by Columbian police,” Foster says as Smith handcuffs him. “It’s all right, I’ve been in jail in six damn countries and the state of Mississippi.”

Through the arrest and the trip to the hospital, Foster talks of being in the military and losing his medical license, blaming that on the military after saying he took two boats in Panama to use to aid the Honduras people. His campaign website highlights his charitable work in Honduras.

The Associated Press reported that "state records show Foster's medical license expired at the end of 2003. The Composite State Board of Medical Examiners suspended Foster's medical license indefinitely in October 2002, citing concerns that he was 'unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients due to a psychiatric disorder.'"

“Eleven years I served this county,” Foster said. “I hate this county. I prayed to God that he would curse it. And guess what? He did. Man, I saw it hit and cursed, and I saw people laid off right and left — white people. I hate this county ...”

Before taking Foster to the hospital, officers let his wife speak to him, and she tries to calm him down.

Doc! Be respectful,” she said.

Foster then calls the officers “Barneys” in apparent reference to Deputy Barney Fife of "The Andy Griffith Show."

“It’s all right, they can’t help it,” he said. “They're not going to arrest no Hispanics. They are not going to arrest somebody that is a damn Arab. They are not going to do that because guess what … (officer slams door).”

During the ride to the hospital, Foster also expounds on immigration and the country “letting … 10,000 run around,” berates the officers for a lack of military service and challenges them to “go one or two rounds.” Then, he asks for several blood samples to be taken.

“I would like to have two independent ones,” Foster said. “I would like to have one sent to Canada, which I have the right to have it sent to Canada — Toronto. I’d like to have one sent to Foggy Bottom.”

“Wow, that’s the CIA,” Edwards said.

“You’re bright,” Foster said.

Foster then talks about the intelligence of airport security officials, the sexual history of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother and religion. And he makes one other point.

“I’ll never drink in Dalton, Georgia, again,” he said.

Dan Lovingood, the Democratic Party's 14th Congressional District chair and the first vice chair of the Whitfield County party, said Foster remains in the race for the congressional seat.

"He would not have taken this to trial if he had thought he would be found guilty," Lovingood said. "I have no comment to make other than that. He's still in the race. He seems more determined than ever to continue. There's a sentencing next Tuesday, and there may be some changes made after that point. But that's his decision. As his manager, I will go with his decision. This is a misdemeanor, not a felony, and he felt he had a good case or he would not have taken this to trial."

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