Local News

2 Officers Back on Duty After Fatal Wrecks

Posted February 20, 2008 10:07 a.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2008 10:39 a.m. EST

— Two law enforcement officers in Franklin County have returned to active duty following separate December wrecks that left four people dead.

Franklinton police officer Michael Dunlap has returned to his patrol, while Franklin County deputy Crystal Mitchell is on desk duty, authorities said.

Dunlap was involved in a Dec. 1 chase that ended on U.S. Highway 15 in Granville County when the vehicle he was pursuing  was involved in a head-on collision. The subject of the chase, Guy Christopher Ayscue, and two sisters in the third car, Linsay and Maggie Lunsford, died in the wreck.

Authorities determined that the chase reached speeds of 90 mph, violating the Franklinton Police Department's policy that pursuits shouldn't exceed 20 mph above the posted speed limit.

Franklinton Police Chief Ray Gilliam said Dunlap clearly violated department policy, but no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer, pending the results of an internal investigation of the incident.

Dunlap won't lose his job because of the chase and wreck, Gilliam said.

No outside agencies are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the chase and wreck, and no timetable has been set for completing the internal probe.

Gene Edmundson, an attorney for the law firm representing the Lunsford family, said the family was surprised to learn Dunlap returned to work without any punishment.

The case prompted Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green to order a temporary ban on pursuits in the county. Franklinton officials also brought in an independent consultant to review the police department's policies and procedures.

In the second case, Mitchell was on a non-emergency call New Year's Eve when the cruiser she was driving struck and killed Marcus Coppedge on N.C. Highway 39 in Ingleside.

A state Highway Patrol investigation determined Mitchell was traveling more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit when her cruiser struck Coppedge. The investigation also determined that Coppedge was intoxicated at the time.