Local News

Ex-Durham Police Officers Face Assault Charges Again

Posted January 2, 2007 7:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2007 7:54 p.m. EST

— Two former Durham police officers accused of assaulting a cook at a Raleigh restaurant in July are facing charges again.

In October, District Judge Debra Sasser dismissed the charges against Gary P. Lee, 38, and Scott C. Tanner, 33, saying the state did not prove the offense had happened in Wake County.

Tuesday, a superior court judge vacated Sasser's dismissal.

"The state proved all of the elements of the offense," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "We thought it was appropriate. They should have been convicted. I don't know what Judge Sasser will do, but it's back in her court, and it's up to her."

Sasser will have to decide now whether to rule on the case or call for a new trial.

The misdemeanor assault charges against Lee and Tanner stem from a July 20 incident outside Blinco's Sports Restaurant & Bar on Glenwood Avenue.

Rene Dennis Thomas, 29, told authorities that he exchanged racial slurs with a group of men in a truck speeding through the restaurant parking lot. He also alleged that one of the men tried to punch him and that another kicked him.

Three other Durham police officers, as well as a former Durham officer who had resigned from the department prior to the alleged assault, had also been under investigation by Raleigh police, but were later cleared.

Lee and Tanner were fired from the Durham Police Department in October following an internal investigation into the incident.