Durham, N.C. — Three Durham police officers were among six people arrested Friday following a disturbance call about a theft.
Durham police reported Lt. Ryan A. Freeman, Officer Stacy L. Armstrong and Officer Erin V. Espinola were each charged with one count of false imprisonment and one count of assault.
Armstrong also was charged with two counts of misdemeanor breaking and entering, and Freeman and Espinola were each charged with one count of breaking and entering.
A spokeswoman with the department said officers were dispatched to a disturbance call shortly before 1 a.m. at a residence on Trevor Circle. A few minutes later, they were dispatched to a related call on Landis Drive.
Investigators determined that several people pushed their way into the home on Trevor Circle to retrieve what they said was stolen property. The property was described as an iPhone, a wallet containing police identification and a coat, which were allegedly taken from a club on Ninth Street.
During that disturbance, a man was chased to the other location and assaulted, police said.
Josh Buck lives at the Landis home and said he called 911 when a neighbor came rushing over, pleading for help. Buck said a woman, whom he identified as Armstrong, was following right behind.
“I hear frantic knocking. It’s my neighbor. He comes holding his ribs and screaming, ‘Dude, call 911. Somebody is robbing me.’” Buck said. “So I called 911 and as soon as I pressed send to call, here comes one of the officers, I guess, coming at me.”
Buck said the officer was yelling, asking where the wallet was and if the neighbor stashed anything at Buck’s house.
Charges were filed against the officers by the Durham Police Department’s Investigations Division. All three officers were off duty when the incident occurred and have been placed on administrative leave.
“We take all matters involving alleged officer misconduct very seriously. These allegations are being thoroughly investigated,” Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr. said. “Although these three officers have been charged, I want to stress to the community that these actions are not indicative of our organization. Although all parties were acquaintances, we believe this was an isolated incident.”
The department’s Professional Standards Division is also conducting its own investigation. The department said more charges could be filed.
Three others were also arrested in the case. Jessica Lobaugh, 30, of Timberlake, Benjamin Brackett, 32, of Timberlake and Jennifer Norton, 30, of Rougemont were each charged with assault and misdemeanor breaking and entering.