WRAL Investigates

Ex-Lumberton officer sees parallels in how Dolan treated him, Raleigh officers

Posted December 15, 2011
Updated December 16, 2011

— A former police officer who worked with Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan 15 years ago is echoing the recent claims made by some Raleigh police officers that Dolan targeted them.

The Raleigh Police Department investigated officers in the Southeast Raleigh Substation earlier this year amid accusations that they had sex with prostitutes. Several resigned, were fired or were placed on administrative leave.

Sgt. Rick Armstrong was cleared in the probe but was fired in July after investigators found evidence that he had sex with a woman while on duty. Armstrong denies that allegation and is fighting to regain his job.

A 14-year veteran of the police department, Armstrong was head of the Raleigh Police Protective Association, a professional group that represents the interests of police officers.

He has said that he believes Dolan doesn't like the RPPA because it has disagreed with him in the past about how officers are promoted and their salary grades.

Dolan justified Armstrong's firing in an Aug. 18 letter.

When Walter McNeill heard about Armstrong's case, details about his own run-in with Dolan came rushing back.

"Sparks just went off, like a bomb. I mean, it was like a bomb again. It started all over again," McNeill told WRAL Investigates recently.

A Lumberton police officer for 20 years, McNeill was demoted in 1997 by Dolan, who was chief of the Lumberton Police Department from 1992 to 1998. Dolan accused him of having sex with a woman while off-duty – an encounter that was reportedly broadcast on his hand-held police radio.

"It was not true," McNeill said. "I lost all confidence in Harry Dolan."

Another former Lumberton officer, KeVin Graham, said he told internal affairs investigators that the profane radio transmission didn't come from McNeill's radio. Instead, Graham said, it came from his hand-held radio as he chased and tried to subdue a female suspect.

Graham, who now works in the mental health field, told WRAL Investigates that he was disappointed that Dolan and internal affairs investigators didn't believe him.

Walter McNeill, ex-Lumberton officer demoted by Harry Dolan Former Lumberton officer believes Raleigh police chief targets officers

"We're law enforcement officers, and we're supposed to uphold the law," he said.

Dolan issued a statement Thursday to WRAL Investigates, saying that McNeill's case "was handled properly and in full accordance with all applicable policies."

He noted that McNeill didn't appeal the demotion after Lumberton's Personnel Board upheld it and continued to work for the police department.

"I am at a loss to explain why Mr. McNeill may have chosen to publicly raise the issues from 1996-97 now, rather than legally pursuing them when he could have done so," Dolan said. "However, I know that I would have been negligent in my responsibilities if I had failed to order a departmental investigation of the occurrence involving then-Sgt. McNeill and at least equally as remiss if I had failed to prescribe appropriate discipline when presented with the findings of the department’s internal investigation.”

Mickey Biggs, the retired internal affairs investigator for the Lumberton Police Department, said McNeill never took responsibility for his actions and continues to hold a grudge over his demotion.

Biggs said the department's investigation also included the allegations of one woman who said McNeill groped her and a second woman who said he propositioned her. Neither woman testified at the grievance hearing, but he said that was because they feared retaliation from McNeill.

McNeill has denied harassing either woman.

Biggs also discounted Graham's testimony, saying it may have been racially motivated because Graham and McNeill are black and Dolan white.

"I believe it was a good, thorough investigation at the time, and I still believe in the decisions that were made, and I still stand by those," Biggs said.

McNeill claims that Dolan targeted him because he stumbled in on a meeting of officers he supervised in the fall of 1996. He never learned what the meeting was about, but he reported the incident to his supervisor.

"He said the chief was upset with me," McNeill said.

McNeill worked for the Lumberton Police Department for two years after his demotion – he was never able to regain his previous rank – and retired after a motorcycle accident in 1999.

Both he and Graham said they believe Dolan spearheaded McNeill's downward spiral at the department.

"It starts at the top – the chief right on down to the internal affairs division," Graham said.

"The chief was the ringleader. The chief was the ringleader," said McNeill, who wonders if the same thing is happening now with Dolan in Raleigh.

"He's got a problem. He needs to stop saying these things about police officers," McNeill said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • bosshog Dec 22, 2011

    Very interesting, jaxjaxdad....sounds like Dolan & Biggs both fell off the same rotten apple tree. Dolan is the epitome of corruption and has been abusing his "power" for quite some time now. God willing, this will come to a screeching halt now that the Teamsters are on to Dolan...he can run, but he can't hide.

  • jaxjaxdad Dec 22, 2011

    terrorized and violated by his actions. While Mickey Biggs may come from a fine family; there is one rotten apple in his family's lineage (MICKEY J. BIGGS). Mr. McNeill we applaud you for having the courage to come forward. Mickey Biggs why does everytime someone questions your actions they're holding a grudge and refusing to accept responsibility for thier actions? Mickey Biggs why don't YOU accept responsibility for your actions and just get out of law enforcement. Mickey Biggs, you're the one laden with both grudge and corruption. Mr. McNeil, I support you and thanks to WRAL for the coverage. It's sparked a fire in the area concerning Mickey Biggs.

  • jaxjaxdad Dec 21, 2011

    I'm a Lumberton resident and I was shocked to see Mickey Biggs making any comment as to the integrity of anyone. It is widely known in the Robeson County area that Mickey Biggs targets anyone that questions his actions. He retalliates against anyone attempting to voice thier opinions as granted by the Constitution. He has used the Robeson County Judicial System as his personal playground to carryout his personal vendetta against individuals. That was his reputation while at the Lumberton Police Department and now his reign of terror has continued at the NC Department of Insurance (according to recent articles in the local papers). Although he teaches the BLET Course at the local Community College, his actions are not indicative of someone charged with teaching the cops that will serve and protect we the citizens of Robeson County. Until Mickey Biggs is removed from law enforcement and his ability to abuse his powers, Robeson County and the State of North Carolina's citizens will be

  • esteryates69 Dec 20, 2011

    Raleigh Police officer,mistreat many in there assets people.What happen to they are suppose protect people.My guess is they use there exaggerated because it make them look big,and hide behind there barge.

  • seu183 Dec 16, 2011

    Harry Dolan has done more to demoralize the Raleigh Police Dept. rank and file in the last three years, than the last 5 Chiefs and Interim Chiefs combined.

  • bosshog Dec 16, 2011

    Well said, ProudAirman. WRAL is doing a thorough investigation on what is a pattern of Dolan's misuse of office/retaliation against his officers. What will **really** be of interest is when Amanda Lamb interviews the two female officers in Michigan who were successful in their 2004 lawsuit against Dolan for wrongful termination/retaliation...to the tune of $3.7 MILLION!! The reason you don't hear from the rank & file at RPD is because they are terrified of Dolan, so as of now he has what he wants...no officer would dare speak up about Dolan because it would only be a matter of time before their job/reputation would be on the line. It is up to the City Manager & the Mayor to put an end to his reign of terror...at least in Raleigh.

  • Proud Airman Dec 16, 2011

    weekendrpd-"This Chief has done everything in his power to make this a safer city and has more than given the officers of the department the tools necessary to get it done."

    Have you looked at stats lately? Not all crime is down. There are three times as many vehicle fatalities as homicides and what's being done about it? Banks are getting robbed, criminals are on the streets. Where is the chief? In his office fabricating false stories about officers when he should be focusing on fixing this city. I'm sorry, he does also find ways to waste city money in his spare time...

  • Proud Airman Dec 16, 2011

    abylelab... it's because the police haters have nothing to say when it's the chief who is in the wrong. They jumped on the bandwagon when the first story broke about the allegations against Raleigh Officers. They swore all cops are dirty. Now that the truth is coming out, they don't look so smart. As a citizen of Raleigh, I am extremely disappointed in the City for allowing Harry Dolan to keep his job this long. I want to see his badge on the mayor's desk before he has a chance to start collecting retirement next year!!!

  • abylelab -BT- Dec 16, 2011

    i don't understand the lack of comments posting lately.

  • dnabailbonds Dec 16, 2011

    There are two sides to every story! I personally don't feel one of the individuals in this interview is very credible at all! Stay tuned, more to come!