Local News

Ex-Durham Police Officers Face Assault Charges Again

Posted January 2, 2007

— Two former Durham police officers accused of assaulting a cook at a Raleigh restaurant in July are facing charges again.

In October, District Judge Debra Sasser dismissed the charges against Gary P. Lee, 38, and Scott C. Tanner, 33, saying the state did not prove the offense had happened in Wake County.

Tuesday, a superior court judge vacated Sasser's dismissal.

"The state proved all of the elements of the offense," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "We thought it was appropriate. They should have been convicted. I don't know what Judge Sasser will do, but it's back in her court, and it's up to her."

Sasser will have to decide now whether to rule on the case or call for a new trial.

The misdemeanor assault charges against Lee and Tanner stem from a July 20 incident outside Blinco's Sports Restaurant & Bar on Glenwood Avenue.

Rene Dennis Thomas, 29, told authorities that he exchanged racial slurs with a group of men in a truck speeding through the restaurant parking lot. He also alleged that one of the men tried to punch him and that another kicked him.

Three other Durham police officers, as well as a former Durham officer who had resigned from the department prior to the alleged assault, had also been under investigation by Raleigh police, but were later cleared.

Lee and Tanner were fired from the Durham Police Department in October following an internal investigation into the incident.

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  • xdarylncx Jan 18, 2007

    RPD is a joke.. how many times have i seen people thumped have to death by 4 or 5 people and they leave the person with the paramedics and a card with the directions to the magistrate.. "you need to take out warrants buddy".. but this they launch an investigation.. nifong's cousin must be running for office in raleigh

  • ahirshp Jan 3, 2007

    Exactly, nbarnhardt! The “victim” is not innocent; he admittedly exchanged racial slurs with the officers. They did not just start wailing on him for no reason. Maybe the officers had one to many drinks; they were at a bar, who knows! Police officers are people to, just because they wear a badge to work does not mean they are incapable of making mistakes. Personally, I’d like to thank police officers for the job they do. I certainly would not want to day in and day out deal with scum bag thugs with nothing to live for and deal with people that hate them for no reason other than they are a cop. After dealing with the stuff they have to see (murders, rapes, child neglect, etc...) It’s a wonder more haven’t made these types of mistakes. Seeing this type of stuff would drive the average citizen nuts. They are much braver than I.

  • Mom to D and Z Jan 2, 2007

    Okay...let me get this straight. The article says that they lost their jobs (in other words, they lost their main source of income). What more are they looking to do to these ex-officers?
    This kind of thing happens every day and the two parties go to dispute settlement and sign waivers to never cross each other again. Bottom line, they wouldn't be treated this way if they were not officers. I'm starting to think you better off a low life in NC, you get away with all kind of mishaps and never have to look back! UNFORTUNATE.

  • walkermr Jan 2, 2007

    I guess what works for the everyday thug doesn't work for the police. Where's the outcry about double standards now?