Local News

Ex-Durham Cop Found Guilty of Assault

Posted April 19, 2007

— A former Durham police was found guilty Thursday of assaulting a cook outside at a Raleigh restaurant last year.

Scott C. Tanner, 33, was sentenced to 60 hours of community service and must attend anger management classes.

Tanner was one of two former police officers on trial for assaulting Rene Dennis Thomas, 29, in the parking lot of Blinco's Sports Restaurant & Bar on Glenwood Avenue in July 2006.

Thomas said that he exchanged racial slurs with a group of men in a truck speeding through the restaurant parking lot. He alleged that one of the men tried to punch him and that another man kicked him.

Tanner and Gary P. Lee, 38, were fired from the Durham Police Department following an internal investigation into the incident.

Lee was found not guilty Thursday in connection with the assault. Defense attorneys said he was protecting Tanner, who had been hospitalized about a month before with cancer that left him in a physically weakened state.

Lee testified that when he saw Thomas and Tanner in a verbal confrontation, he became concerned for his friend's safety.

"The whole time, I'm walking up, I'm like, 'If this guy hits him with his condition, he's going to break a bone,'" Lee said. "I don't know how that weakens the bones or whatever. I was just scared. I was like, 'Why isn't anyone stepping in. Why isn't anyone doing something?'"

District Court Judge Debra Sasser, who threw out the assault charges in October 2006, ruled that Lee's actions under the law were permitted.

The case was being heard for a second time, because Sasser threw out the assault charges, saying prosecutors had not established that a crime had occurred in Wake County. A higher-level judge, however, reinstated those charges.


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  • I hear voices Apr 20, 2007


    Because when a person becomes a LEO they are held to a higher standard and rightfully so.


    how childish can we get. I know several LEO's that are just that. The do as they have sworn to do, Uphold the law. If you have proof of these officers committing these crimes take to the courts but don't group them all toghether. This is how racism starts. They all look alike, it's in their culture. Grow up.

  • Panther Apr 20, 2007

    Wow after a few of the last comments I'm glad that I don't eat pork!

  • Heelz1 Apr 20, 2007

    None of you were there, but you seem to want to crucify Tanner and Lee just because you have a negative image of LEOs in general.

    whoami, look at my post, i'm not saying what happened is right or wrong, LEO's should have known better and drove on, you know as well as i that ever tom, dick, and harry are out there looking for reasons to sue somebody...

  • RRsaidso Apr 20, 2007

    whaomi get a life. Hes a dirty cop & its proven. Being a Cop is a good alibi. Most cops abuse there power, beat people, cuss people, sell drugs they confiscate, keep money they confiscate, steal & do things we would never get away with. Oink Oink Oink

  • anonemoose Apr 20, 2007

    The problem is the policy manual of every police dept has a "conduct unbecoming" policy, and states that it applied to anything that brings discredit to the agency, either on or off duty.

  • Pack Rules Apr 20, 2007

    Thanks "Heelz1". Funny how some people think they know exactly what went on when they were not there.

  • Heelz1 Apr 20, 2007

    whoami1969, again, where you there when it happened, and if so why didn't you stop it...

  • Pack Rules Apr 20, 2007

    This cop did something wrong or he would not have been convicted in a court of law.

  • retSBI Apr 20, 2007

    D U R H A M-- says it all

  • whoami1969 Apr 20, 2007


    First, this incident was instigated by the cook, and he threw himself down on the ground...he was not punched or kicked to the ground. Folks seem to be under the false impression that these cops "ganged up" on the cook, who again, was charging the officer's vehicle as they left the parking lot.

    Second, the firing of both officers was inappropriate from the beginning, and was only done by "Coasting To Retirement" Steve Chalmbers in an effort to pry the spotlight off the questionable investigative tactics of his detectives in the Crystal Mangum Fantasy.

    The disciplinary action for these 2 officers was well outside the parameters of Durham PD's normal actions for more serious offenses. Tanner and Lee were both fine officers, both with specialized training, who were hung out to dry as the "white sheep" of a black administration to save racial-face in the midst of an unrelated media firestorm.