Local News

Trump rally assault victim applauds disciplining of Cumberland deputies

Posted March 16, 2016
Updated March 17, 2016

— The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said that five deputies have been disciplined in connection with the assault of Rakeem Jones at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville on March 9.

The sheriff’s office said the deputies witnessed the assault and did not take action. Three of the deputies were demoted and were also suspended without pay for five days. The other two were suspended without pay for three days. All five deputies face one year of probation.

"I applaud the sheriff's department for their work and finding the deputies responsible," said Jones.

In a statement, Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said the deputies faced disciplinary action for "unsatisfactory performance and failing to discharge the duties and policies of the office of the sheriff."

"The actions of the deputies and their failures to act in situations such as that which occurred during the Trump rally at the Crown Coliseum have never been and will never be tolerated under the policies of this office," Butler said in a statement.

The sheriff's office said that several of the disciplined deputies were involved with the confrontation of Andrew Michaelis, who went on a deadly shooting spree killing family members and assaulting deputies with an assault rifle in July 2014. Their actions in that situation factored into their punishment, Butler said.

"I have taken into account the past bravery and exemplary conduct, including the life-saving and other actions of these deputies in assessing the discipline, and in imposing the sanctions," he said. "We regret that any of the circumstances at the Trump rally occurred, and we regret that we have had to investigate all of these matters."

John Franklin McGraw, 78, was charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct in connection with the incident. McGraw also faced charges of communicating threats for comments he made about Jones following the rally.

Authorities said that Jones was being escorted out of the rally after disrupting Trump’s speech when McGraw edged his way to the end of the row and hit Jones in the head and face.

Jones was part of a group who started shouting in protest minutes after Trump took the stage last Wednesday night. He said he gave McGraw the middle finger after he and many other attendees began yelling at the protesting group. Jones' group was the first of many protesters to be thrown out of the event.

Jones said after he was elbowed by McGraw, officers moved in, but it was him- not McGraw- that they took to the ground.

"I thought I was being arrested, to be honest," Jones said. "I saw, later on, that [McGraw] went back to his seat so I am trying to figure out why was he able to go back to his seat."

Jones said the attack still isn't over for him. He lives on guard, continuing to get threats against him and the people around him.

"I can't do normal stuff anymore," he said. "What about the safety of my family?"

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office considered charging Trump with inciting a riot after the incident at the Crown Coliseum, noting that the GOP front-runner made comments during the removal of several protesters at the event. On Monday, the sheriff’s office said "the evidence does not meet the requisites of the law as established under the relevant North Carolina statute and case law to support a conviction of the crime of inciting a riot.”


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  • Josha Barton Mar 18, 2016
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    I commend sheriff Butler for keeping his eye on truth and not turning a blind eye I to injustice. Deputies, police officers, and sheriffs took an oath to protect and serve not ignore and go with the status quo. I thank all officers of the law and hope to see more leaders like Butler.

  • Kim Schrock Mar 17, 2016
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    Most of the protesters should have been arrested for disturbing the peace. Typical Mouse Butler throwing his deputies under the bus to look good for his liberal co-conspirators. What a guy! The protestors were premeditated in their actions.

  • Tandy Dawgy Mar 17, 2016
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    Protester was assaulted while being escorted by deputies. The perp was later arrested and charged, deputies were disciplined. Seems pretty cut and dry but of course republicans have to scream and cry that somehow it was the victim's fault. That somehow he had it coming to him. It was BLM's fault. The media's fault. Liberal's fault. College student's fault. Whine whine whine. Blame blame blame.

  • John Snow Mar 17, 2016
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    That is covered by the first amendment and does not mitigate an assault charge.

  • David McCabe Mar 17, 2016
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    Have you watched the video of the incident? He was flipping the entire crowd the double-birds and yelling, "**** you". He says this himself in his interview after the incident took place.

  • Andy Jackson Mar 17, 2016
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    There you go.....play that race card. Us blacks need to stop doing that for every thing we don't agree with. Peace.

  • Andy Jackson Mar 17, 2016
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    You are exactly right. We have NO rights to interrupt public gatherings such that others cannot listen, causing potential safety issues etc.

  • Roger Connor Mar 17, 2016
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    Jim Halbert wrote: Protesting is an American right and is one of the most powerful displays of our freedoms in action.
    Actually, no. One has the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. Which means that you DO NOT have the right to disrupt someone else exercising their right to free speech. Other limitations have to do with location of assembly, numbers in the location (fire safety among them), disruption of traffic, parading with/without a license, inciting riot, and others.

  • William James Mar 17, 2016
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    But, how will this disciplinary action prevent them from behaving like this in the future? Plenty of those officers caught over the past few years illegally shooting young black men had multiple disciplinary write ups.

  • Robert Richardson Mar 17, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Really?? He was being escorted out not saying anything at the time. Someone walks up and for no reason hits him and he got what he was asking for? Thing is, if he would have been the one doing hit in the same manner, he would have been taken down right then.