Local News

Highway Patrol commander on trooper misconduct: 'It saddens me'

Posted June 21, 2018 8:33 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:43 p.m. EDT

— With two state troopers fired and a sergeant on desk duty following an April incident in which a Raleigh man was beaten, Col. Glenn McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol, said Thursday that the 1,600 troopers statewide must be held to a high standard.

Troopers Michael Blake and Tabithia Davis, along with Wake County Deputy Cameron Broadwell, have been indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and willfully failing to discharge duties.

The charges stem from the April 3 arrest of 29-year-old Kyron Dwain Hinton, who says he suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose, multiple cuts on his head, "probably 20 bite marks" and memory loss after several officers pushed him up against a patrol car and beat him up while a Wake County Sheriff's Office K-9 bit him on his right arm, side and head.

Officers were responding to reports of a man with a gun yelling at passing cars near the intersection of North Raleigh Boulevard and Yonkers Road when they confronted him.

Dashboard camera videos from patrol cars at the scene show Broadwell's K-9, Loki, taking Hinton to the ground. During the ensuing scrum with several officers, one officer is seen kicking Hinton, while another is seen punching him as he refuses to give in to law enforcement.

In the audio for several dashcam videos, including Broadwell's and Blake's, someone repeatedly issues an order to hit Hinton in the head.

Blake can be heard later on dashcam audio admitting to being the one to issue the order to hit Hinton in the head. He also says that he kicked Hinton in the ribs.

Davis can be heard on the audio saying that she had hit Hinton in the head with her flashlight.

No gun was found on or near Hinton.

Blake and Davis were fired last Friday following an internal investigation by the Highway Patrol. Sgt. R.W. Goswick, who can be heard on the audio telling the troopers to file reports stating no force was used in Hinton's arrest, was placed on administrative duty during an separate internal investigation.

"It saddens me," McNeill said. "When any of our personnel don't meet the high standard we set for our organization, I'm saddened by that. But we're going to hold them accountable."

Because the Hinton investigation is ongoing, he said he was limited in what he could discuss.

"When our troopers are involved in a critical incident," he said, "we're also going to look at at best practices. Were there other options available to our personnel?"

McNeill is a 25-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, and he was tapped by Gov. Roy Cooper early last year to lead the law enforcement agency. He is soft-spoken, yet known by his colleagues as firm and assertive and should not be underestimated.

"Don't take that kindness in the wrong way," he said. "I believe in holding our personnel accountable for their actions, and I also believe in setting a positive example and leading by example."

The 47-year-old grew up in Reidsville and decided to become a state trooper following his mother's murder when he was 10 years old.

"You're a child, and you don't quite understand that mom is gone forever, and during the course of all this chaos around me, I see a state trooper," he said. "I was so impressed with the way they conduct themselves and the way they carry themselves, and a dream was born for me."