WRAL Investigates

Fayetteville day care owner challenges drug arrest, says police may have planted evidence

Posted August 2, 2019 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated August 2, 2019 7:06 p.m. EDT

— A man arrested last summer when Fayetteville police raided an in-home day care center is questioning police tactics and the handling of evidence collected in the case.

Reshod Everett and his wife ran Tori’s Playhouse at 1080 Ronald Reagan Drive. They and two others were arrested in July 2018 following a 36-hour drug investigation that yielded more than 100 pounds of marijuana, heroin, firearms, ammunition and $65,700 in cash.

Everett said he feels he was set up and says he has video to prove it.

"I'm innocent," he told WRAL Investigates, adding about the drugs, "I have no knowledge of them."

He admits he had tens of thousands of dollars in cash at his home, and he claims there was more than the approximately $70,000 police seized, but doesn’t where that money is now.

Police records show an arrest warrant was issued for Everett after drugs were found in an apartment he owns. The next day, police conducted surveillance on the day care for the entire afternoon. Supplemental reports from officers on the stakeout made no mention of any suspicious activity.

Once the last child left the day care, Fayetteville’s Gang Task Force went into action.

"I'm approached with one guy stepping his foot in the door, pushing his way in, grabbing me around the waist and another gentleman with plain clothes on grabbing my arm and saying, 'Let us in, brother,'" Everett said, describing his arrest.

He said he didn’t resist, and noted that officers failed to produce the arrest warrant and didn’t identify themselves until after pushing him into his home.

Police conducted a security sweep of the home once Everett was in handcuffs, according to records. During the sweep, they reported seeing what they believed to be THC-laced gummies and two guns in an upstairs closet. The guns, which were legally owned, were kept in the closet with a keypad lock on the door, according to Everett. Child care laws allow firearms in an in-home day care as long as they’re properly secured.

Everett said he feels the security sweep was unnecessary – nothing more than an excuse to violate his constitutional rights.

"They watched the house They knew who was there," he said, referring to the hours of surveillance on the house.

Based on observations during the security sweep and the drugs found in the apartment a day earlier, police began the process of obtaining a search warrant. Officers also cut or disconnected the wires from surveillance cameras Everett had on the outside of the house. Investigators say it’s common for high-end drug traffickers to install cameras to keep an eye out for police.

Everett insists that’s not case: “It's a business. I have children. So, the thing is, if anything happens to the children on our premises, we would kind of want to have surveillance of what actually happened to the children and for the security of the children."

One camera the officers didn’t disable was Everett’s Ring doorbell camera. Once he bonded out, he checked the activity from that camera and was disturbed by what he saw.

Everett provided video, still images and the activity log from the camera to WRAL Investigates that show multiple officers entering his home in the two-hour period before the search warrant arrived. The images show some of the officers bringing items into the house.

Everett said some of those items, including a brown paper bag and what appears to be a black envelope, were prominently displayed in photographs released by Fayetteville police of evidence in the case.

"What else to make a great story but to put things in places, especially behind a day care? That makes it a great story," said Everett, who said the entire bust was staged to grab headlines.

"No probable cause. It was a running day care. There was no drug trafficking. There was no trafficking, period. There was nothing going on. It was a business," he said.

WRAL Investigates obtained search warrants from the Cumberland County courthouse as well as evidence logs and supplemental police reports provided by Everett.

The police department’s press release doesn't mention finding any heroin in the apartment owned by Everett on July 16, 2018. The search warrant for the day care shows officers seized 31 grams of heroin in the home on July 17. However, the evidence log shows 31 grams of heroin was seized from the apartment and not submitted as evidence in the case until the morning of July 18.

Fayetteville police declined to comment when asked about the different locations of where the heroin was seized.

Everett reached out to city leaders and Police Chief Gina Hawkins with questions about his arrest. In April, he was interviewed by the police department's Internal Affairs officers, and he showed them the video from his doorbell camera.

That investigation is still going on almost four months later, which frustrates Everett.

"It didn't take them long to come get me, so I'm not understanding why I can't get the same equal reaction," he said.

Everett did receive a letter from Hawkins last month when he asked why the process was taking so long.

In response to WRAL Investigates' questions about Everett’s case, police issued the following statement:

"… Reshod Everett is a defendant in these ongoing criminal charges. Any criminal proceedings and the possible outcome of those criminal proceedings have no bearing on any internal investigation.

"Reshod Everett provided an opportunity for our Internal Affairs Unit to view a video, however despite us asking for a copy of the video to assist with the internal investigation multiple times, Reshod Everett has not provided us with a copy of any videos he has. We do have videos taken by personnel with our department, to include body-worn camera footage, which we are using during the internal investigation.

"Current North Carolina law prevents us from releasing such videos without a court order from a Superior Court judge allowing us to do so.

"Due to North Carolina personnel laws, we are unable to provide specific details or a specific statement into the ongoing internal investigation our department is conducting. Since we are unable to provide specifics based on those personnel laws, it provides an opportunity for others to tell their own narrative using selective details to paint their own picture while omitting certain important facts. Our supervisory personnel complete thorough investigations into any complaint to ensure our personnel are abiding by all laws, acting ethically, and acting in accordance with all of our policies and procedures.

"A complaint was received by Reshod Everett and is currently being investigated by our department. Reshod Everett, as any other citizen would be, will be notified upon the conclusion of the internal investigation."

According to the last correspondence with Internal Affairs, the results of the investigation may be released later this month.

Prior to the drug bust, Everett had a clean record other than traffic violations, and those three charges were dismissed. Everett said he feels police had a year to tell their story about the drug bust. Now, he wants to change the narrative.

"They told a story. They lied about a story. They made it look good. It got thrown around nationwide, and that's what people believe because they see it on the news. Well, here's the true story," he said.