Local News

Ex-Spring Lake officer alleges Cumberland County, state officials framed him

Posted June 23

Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr.
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— Seven years after he lost his job amid a corruption investigation, a former Spring Lake police officer is alleging Cumberland County and state officials conspired to frame him.

Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. filed suit last month in Cumberland County Superior Court against Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler, the estate of former District Attorney Ed Grannis, former State Bureau of Investigation director Robin Pendergraft, the SBI, the Spring Lake Police Department and others. In the lawsuit, which has been moved to federal court, Coulter wants a court order declaring the actions of the defendants illegal, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Coulter was indicted in May 2009 on charges of kidnapping, assault, obstruction of justice and other offenses. The 10-year veteran of the Spring Lake Police Department was accused of holding three men at gunpoint in April 2008 after forcing his way into a home and asking subordinate officers to falsify a report about a September 2008 raid on a motel room.

The arrest was the culmination of an SBI investigation into alleged corruption in the police department.

All charges against Coulter were dismissed in 2013, but authorities never provided an explanation for dropping the case.

Coulter alleges in his lawsuit that he was arrested "for refusing to assist Defendant Grannis and his network of counterparts in building criminal cases against a list of state, county and local African American officials and business owners." The lawsuit doesn't elaborate on that claim, but he alleges his arrest amounted to malicious prosecution and violated his civil rights.

The defendants have denied that there was any conspiracy against Coulter.

A second Spring Lake officer, Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr., was also indicted in May 2009, and he later pleaded guilty to stealing $2,900 from the evidence room and altering records to cover up the theft.

The day after the two officers were arrested, Police Chief A.C. Brown resigned, and Cumberland County authorities assumed control of law enforcement in Spring Lake for about nine months.

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