BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) - The Brownstown Township father accused of letting his nine-year-old daughter drive him around because he was drunk appeared in court today and had nothing to say to reporters, but his friends had plenty to tell Action News.
Shawn Weimer, 39, is facing felony charges and his preliminary examination was postponed so investigators and his attorney could review the surveillance video that has made international headlines.
The video from a Citgo Gas station shows Weimer's bright red van pulling up to a gas pump and parking. Weimer then gets out of the passenger side and his young daughter is seen getting out of the driver's side of the van.
Inside the gas station, Weimer can be heard on the surveillance video bragging that his daughter is only nine-years-old and drove him to the gas station. Weimer, who is heard saying he's drunk, also refers to his daughter as his "designated driver" and "chauffeur".
Jill Thiel says she's been a friend to Weimer for over ten years and when asked what she thought after seeing the video, she told Action News, "It was upsetting because I'm a Mother myself but the way she looked in the video, she looked like a happy child".
Weimer can be heard on surveillance video saying, "She drives us here. I swear to you. Nine. Nine-years-old. In the truck. We're parked right there. She drove all the way here".
Thiel says she came to court today to support Weimer and added, "It would have been worse if he got got in the vehicle and drove while he was intoxicated with his child in the car". Action News reporter Kimberly Craig replies, "How about he just not leave the house or get someone who is old enough or sober?". Thiel pauses and says, "Yeah".
For about two years, Michael Wheatley worked for Weimer in his sewer and drain cleaning business. Wheatley calls Weimer a good dad who has taught his daughter to ride dirt bikes but when it comes to Weimer allegedly letting his nine-year-old drive because he was drunk, Wheatley says, "It's a complete shock. That's not Shawn. I mean, Shawn drinking and Shawn sober are two totally, 110-percent, different people".
On Saturday, October 8, near 3:00 a.m. a witness spotted Weimer and his daughter leaving a Citgo Gas station with Weimer's daughter getting into the driver's seat.
The witness called 911 and told the dispatcher, “Just watched a van pull out of the Citgo Gas station. A seven-year-old girl is driving it and her dad is drunk and he’s in the passenger”. The dispatcher asks if the vehicle is staying on the road and the caller replies,
“She’s driving pretty good. I’m telling you, I can’t believe it”.
The witness followed the van until police arrived to make the traffic stop.
Officers found the girl sitting on a booster seat behind the wheel.
Weimer, who had visitation with his daughter on weekends, was arrested and the child was turned over to the care of relatives.
Police say Weimer didn't see a problem letting his nine-year-old daughter drive.
The girl told officers her father had been drinking whiskey and that he had let her drive before.
Action News reached Weimer by phone on Monday and he said that he was wrong for letting his daughter drive. He added that he is a good dad who made a bad decision.
Weimer has been charged with 2nd Degree Child Abuse (Felony), 4th Degree Child Abuse (Misdemeanor) and Habitual 4th (Felony) due to prior convictions that include Unarmed Robbery and Felon in Possession, according to police.
Weimer is free on a $25,000 personal bond and has been ordered not to have any contact with his daughter who resides with her mother.
He's due back in court on November 8 at 1:30 p.m.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
GLEE co-stars MELISSA BENOIST and BLAKE JENNER have confirmed their engagement after months of speculation.
MILEY CYRUS has been named the 2013 MTV Artist of the Year.