Local News

Three Durham police officers arrested in disturbance

Posted January 18, 2013
Updated September 21, 2015

— 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. Three Durham police officers face charges in fracas Three Durham police officers face charges in fracas

“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.


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  • gvmntcheese Jan 22, 2013

    I think it is funny how this story will never see the light of day again. Furthermore, I find it typical that their arrest pics are not listed on this website, unlike so many non-violent arrests pictured on this website.

  • SportsLover75 Jan 22, 2013

    Just because you are a cop it does not mean you can do things such as this. They should lose thier jobs! They are supposed to enforce the law not break it. If their items were stolen then they know the proper steps in getting their property back. Instead they decided to go get it and beat the man they thought was responsible. Sad thing is... what if the man they beat was the wrong person. His friend could have taken the phone and stashed it there or sold it to him. He could be innocent. (not saying he is, but it is possible he could be)

  • aquamarine46 Jan 22, 2013

    I don'tknow how Durham's "be all, know all" decision makers at the police department make their decisions as to whom will be allowed in the academy, thus giving them a job with the PD, but they made a huge mistake when they turned down my nephew. He would have been one of the GOOD ones.

  • desanique Jan 22, 2013

    Durham Police do things like this all of the time about time something came to the light!!!!!!!!!!

  • kermit60 Jan 22, 2013

    Were the officers armed? Posibly with an off duty weapon. If so why were they not charged with Home Invasion? If they were armed and the home was occupied I think that meets the criteria for Home Invasion.

  • kermit60 Jan 22, 2013

    They should have done what all other citizens are told to do, call 911. They should have had to endure the lengthy wait for an officer to show up, take a report and then be told that an investigator will contact them. They should of had to wait a few weeks for that call only to be told that there has been no progress in the case. No, these officers felt that they had some special right to take matters into their own hands like so many of us would like to do but can't. The question now is weather they will be processed like one of us would be if we had done the same thing?

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 22, 2013

    "Was the stolen wallet and phone retrieved?"

    Good question huh... Bet we'll never find out and will be irrelevant as to how these officers are prosecuted.

  • eyeoneastsky Jan 21, 2013

    Was the stolen wallet and phone retreived?

  • HisLoVe Jan 21, 2013

    Law enforcement should have been called to retrieve stolen stuff not some vigalante junk that these three pulled. DPD is as corrupt as it gets...well maybe neck in neck with RPD. I dont trust any of them. These are the people who call everyone a criminal yet they are too, they were just not caught. Jokes on them, now they were!

  • No Party Affiliate Jan 18, 2013

    "They made a bad decision/call, that's it!"

    Really? I have a bridge to see you!

    They knew the law, the enforced the law but they broke the law.