Raleigh planning director accuses woman of simple assault
Posted June 27, 2013
Updated June 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — A rezoning hearing about a gas station in north Raleigh has led to Raleigh's city planning director filing a simple assault charge against a woman who he says punched him in the shoulder.
Mitchell Silver, who has been the city's chief planning and development officer since 2005, said Thursday that he filed the misdemeanor complaint against Lillian Thompson after she approached him after a meeting Tuesday night and hit him.
City planners had just voted to recommend to the City Council that a piece of land at the corner of New Hope and Buffaloe roads in north Raleigh be re-zoned to make way for a Sheetz gas station – a controversy stirred by neighbor's worries that the 24-hour store would draw more traffic to the area.
"The public certainly has a right to voice their concern or opposition to any matter," Silver said in a statement Thursday. "However, the assaults on an elected official, appointed official or staff should not be tolerated."
Thompson admitted Thursday that she was angry after the meeting but said she tapped Silver on the shoulder during a conversation.
"(It was) just a little knock, just a tap," Thompson said. "In that setting, in that environment, that probably surprised him, and so I thought it best, professionally, to send him an apology."
Silver said two witnesses saw him get punched.
"I would not have filed a complaint if she tapped me. I was punched," he said in an email.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said police responded to the alleged assault Tuesday but that – because Silver had no visible injuries, there was no ongoing threat and officers did not witness it – police instructed him to file a criminal complaint with the Wake County Magistrate's Office, a routine procedure in simple assault cases.
"I always encourage employees to take out prosecution against somebody who does that to make sure there is a message that it is not acceptable," Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said.
Thompson is expected to appear in court on the charge July 12.