Local News

Man held hostage files complaint against Cary police

Posted February 25, 2011 5:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2011 11:13 p.m. EST

— One of the men held hostage in a Cary bank standoff Feb. 10 has filed a complaint against the police who responded to the scene.

According to a letter sent to the Town of Cary attorney, Lee Everett was beaten, cursed and handcuffed by officers when he emerged from the bank where police said 19-year-old Devon Mitchell held as many as seven people.

Mitchell allowed five of the people, including Everett, to exit the bank over a three-hour period.

As he walked out the front door, Everett alleges, he said, "I'm a hostage." Then, according to the letter, "Several officers jumped on him immediately. He was roughly thrown to the ground, with obscenities being yelled at him."

Like Mitchell, Everett is black. Police knew the hostage taker was a black man from a description to a 911 dispatcher during a call from inside the bank. The caller described the hostage taker's purple shirt and red pants.

Everett's lawyer, Alan McSurely of Chapel Hill, wrote in the complaint that his client was wearing a Harris-Teeter smock. He had come to the bank after his shift at the grocery store as a produce manager.

"Everett was treated differently and with unnecessary roughness and violence than the white hostages who were released or remained in the bank when the situation was finally ended," McSurely wrote.

Everett suffered an injury to his shoulder and had bruises that "were visible for more than a week," according to the complaint. He and his wife both missed work while they dealt with the physical and emotional fallout from the incident.

McSurely asked Cary police for copies of incident reports and video and suggested that the officers' actions be subject to an outside investigation. 

Cary spokeswoman Susan Moran said Friday, "We take it extremely seriously. And if we find that we have staff members that haven't upheld our expectations, they are gone."

"We proactively approached the District Attorney's Office, and asked D.A. Colon Willoughby and the SBI to independently investigate these allegations, so that everyone would have the trust and confidence in the police department and their actions," she said.

The three-hour standoff at the Wachovia Bank on Green Level Church Road ended when authorities shot and killed  Mitchell as he emerged from the bank holding what appeared to be a gun to the head of a woman.

Police now say he did not have a weapon.

Four women and three men were inside the bank when Mitchell entered, Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said.

Four Cary police officers and a Wake County sheriff’s deputy all fired at Mitchell, but Bazemore did not say how many times he was shot.

The officers and the deputy are on administrative duty, which is standard whenever an officer discharges a weapon, pending a state investigation of the incident.

Friends of Mitchell have questioned the use of force in the case, but Bazemore has said the officers did as they were trained and were expected to do under the circumstances.