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2 Officers Back on Duty After Fatal Wrecks

Posted February 20, 2008
Updated February 21, 2008

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— Two law enforcement officers in Franklin County have returned to active duty following separate December wrecks that left four people dead.

Franklinton police officer Michael Dunlap has returned to his patrol, while Franklin County deputy Crystal Mitchell is on desk duty, authorities said.

Dunlap was involved in a Dec. 1 chase that ended on U.S. Highway 15 in Granville County when the vehicle he was pursuing  was involved in a head-on collision. The subject of the chase, Guy Christopher Ayscue, and two sisters in the third car, Linsay and Maggie Lunsford, died in the wreck.

Authorities determined that the chase reached speeds of 90 mph, violating the Franklinton Police Department's policy that pursuits shouldn't exceed 20 mph above the posted speed limit.

Franklinton Police Chief Ray Gilliam said Dunlap clearly violated department policy, but no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer, pending the results of an internal investigation of the incident.

Dunlap won't lose his job because of the chase and wreck, Gilliam said.

No outside agencies are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the chase and wreck, and no timetable has been set for completing the internal probe.

Gene Edmundson, an attorney for the law firm representing the Lunsford family, said the family was surprised to learn Dunlap returned to work without any punishment.

The case prompted Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green to order a temporary ban on pursuits in the county. Franklinton officials also brought in an independent consultant to review the police department's policies and procedures.

In the second case, Mitchell was on a non-emergency call New Year's Eve when the cruiser she was driving struck and killed Marcus Coppedge on N.C. Highway 39 in Ingleside.

A state Highway Patrol investigation determined Mitchell was traveling more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit when her cruiser struck Coppedge. The investigation also determined that Coppedge was intoxicated at the time.

76 Comments

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  • TechRescue Feb 22, 2008

    Cookie Me Elmo - "I'm glad you're sticking with just fire and rescue.."

    I'm tired of people dying for no good reason, whether they be Fire, Rescue, LEO, or just plain old mostly unappreciated citizens.

    We've lost three firefighters in NC this year, and two of them were in vehicular accidents responding to calls with no seatbelt on. Every year, a dozen or so firefighters in the US die the same way. There's no excuse for that. However, collectively we have the mentality that the rules don't apply to us, that what happens to our brothers won't happen to us, and we write off those losses as if they can't be prevented.

    As someone noted earlier, most injuries / deaths in high-speed chases are law enforcement officers - but they still consider it "hanging it out" a sign of manhood, of authority - it's a respect thing. Until they learn, just as our firefighters need to learn, to work smarter instead of harder they will continue to kill themselves - and innocent bystanders - needlessly.

  • oldcorp Feb 21, 2008

    Precisely why, as an LEO for over two decades, I would no longer chase anyone for anything anymore. If something bad happens, there's no winning. Period. It's not worth it to be held responsible for some possible tragedy that you'll be blamed for, no matter the facts. Used to not be this way, but a real sea change has ocurred. It's too bad, but I'm not the only one thinking this way. At one time I felt I was part of a noble calling, but today's society has relegated us to servant positions and whipping boys for anything we're involved in that does not turn out well.

  • Common Sense Man Feb 21, 2008

    "The people on WRAL are not unlike those posting on AOL..NBC 17 you name it...if the citizens (the victims and potential victims) cannot stomach or will not tolerate the results of police chases..they should end. As many have said, the police act on our behalf and if we ask publicly to limit those actions then in the end many agencies are listening and stopping or limiting pursuits...Public opinion sways goverment policy...."

    Interesting point, but the Supreme Court recently ruled that chases are a necessariy evil and terminating them with a blanket policy would not be in society's best interest. If you think people drive normal after the cops terminate the pursuit then you're sadly mistaken.

  • ratherbnnc Feb 21, 2008

    Ok, now you are just being dumb. How is open dialog amongst citizens a waste of time? How is the free flow of info live and one on one a waste of time? How is telling the truth based on research and fact a waste of time? You talk as if you are getting the truth from places like thuis and the mainstream...
    gvmntcheese

    I actually do not see where i stated that it was a waste of time! My response was that I did not have the time! Truth based on research and fact! It appears that you sir have neither done your research nor gathered the facts. I do not need to gather the truth from places like this nor the mainstream. I base my responses on actually living in the law enforcement world for 19 years! Have you lived in the law enforcement world or are you just another arm chair quarterback who stirs debate over issues he knows very little about or without any experience in that area?

  • gvmntcheese Feb 21, 2008

    Ok, now you are just being dumb. How is open dialog amongst citizens a waste of time? How is the free flow of info live and one on one a waste of time? How is telling the truth based on research and fact a waste of time? You talk as if you are getting the truth from places like thuis and the mainstream...

  • ratherbnnc Feb 21, 2008

    These blogs are too slow and are too impersonal. It is not a publicity stunt as I have more important things to do than to sit here and argue with witless wonders such as yourself. I understand that you are too afraid to engage me live and one on one into issues such as these, its ok, I understand, continue on sitting there with your twinkies and type away. You have more than proven my point with your banter anyway in regards to this issue...
    gvmntcheese

    Too Funny! Like i said, publicity stunt and you advertised it as much sir with your challenge to join your radio show! If thats not a publicity stunt i dont know what is. I would not hesitate to join your on-air farce, however, I do not really have the time to assist you in your elevation of your ratings nor your attempts to be another "Rush Limbaugh". Maybe you should ask Howard Stern to debate this issue. I really do not feel he would waste his time either!

  • gvmntcheese Feb 21, 2008

    "This pretty much sums it up! He didnt have an honest input or opinion. Just a publicity stunt for a radio show! I rest my case!!"

    These blogs are too slow and are too impersonal. It is not a publicity stunt as I have more important things to do than to sit here and argue with witless wonders such as yourself. I understand that you are too afraid to engage me live and one on one into issues such as these, its ok, I understand, continue on sitting there with your twinkies and type away. You have more than proven my point with your banter anyway in regards to this issue...

  • ratherbnnc Feb 21, 2008

    I am not so endowed.
    Through a glass darkly

    Hmmmm! that seems like a personal issue you must deal with!! HAHA

  • Through a glass darkly Feb 21, 2008

    "I can see where your id is Through a glass darkly as apparently you lack the ability to see through the glass with open eyes!!" I'm also a sucker for Biblical allusions. I envy those who *know* the answer to everything. I am not so endowed.

  • ratherbnnc Feb 21, 2008

    I shall reserve the rest of my comments for our show on Friday. You guys are encouraged to participate. We welcome all opinions, even ones we do not agree with.

    www.blogtalkradio.com/tradencheese
    gvmntcheese

    This pretty much sums it up! He didnt have an honest input or opinion. Just a publicity stunt for a radio show! I rest my case!!

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