Local News

Harnett County Deputy Resigns

Posted April 21, 2004

— After 13 years with the Harnett County Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Johnny Sanders resigned after a police video tape appears to show him kicking a handcuffed suspect.

Those who have had run-ins with this deputy before say this is not the first time he stepped over the line.

In the videotape from a Lillington police cruiser, it looks like a deputy kicks a suspect following a chase. The Harnett County Sheriff says it's not police brutality, but behavior unbecoming of an officer.

"My first thought was thank you God, because he's been exposed," says Elizabeth Harley.

When Harley saw the video on WRAL, Sgt. Johnny Sanders' picture brought back memories.

She says in 1998, when her son was in handcuffs, Sanders hit him with a baton.

"He beat my son and got away with it," she says.

The 1998 police reports tell a different story, but either way, the case was never investigated because Harley's son never filed a complaint. She says because of his criminal history, they were advised not to.

Her story about Sgt. Sanders is not the only one.

"There have been numerous complaints," says attorney David Hartley.

On behalf of a client, Hartley is thinking about filing a Civil Rights complaint against Sanders. He has been investigating on and off for a year. He says this videotape shows a mindset.

"If he would do something like that, with as many law enforcement officers that must have been in the area, and not be afraid of what might or might not happen to him, what does he do to an individual out on the road at night when it's just he and that individual alone? That scares the hell out of me," says Hartley.

WRAL has learned Sanders was convicted of assault-and-battery in the '80s before he was hired as a Harnett County deputy in 1988. And even though he was allowed to carry a weapon at work, because of the conviction, he was denied an application to carry a concealed weapon on his personal time.

WRAL contacted Sanders at his home Thursday. He said he was too busy to talk, but he is quoted in the Dunn

Daily Record

as saying "when people try to get you and they gang up, there's not much you can do."

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