Raleigh officers: Man didn't pose threat before Wake deputy unleashed K-9
Posted May 10, 2019 3:25 p.m. EDT
Updated May 10, 2019 7:23 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Three Raleigh police officers said Friday that they didn't view a delirious man in the street last year as a threat before a Wake County deputy showed up and unleashed a police dog on the man to take him down.
Deputy Cameron Broadwell, who commanded the K-9 to go after Kyron Hinton during the April 3, 2018, encounter, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault inflicting serious injury and willfully failing to discharge duties in connection with the incident.
Officers J.W. Gomes, M.N. Klingenmaier and C.A. Martucci were among the first law enforcement officers on the scene after several people called 911 to report a man in the middle of street, near the intersection of North Raleigh Boulevard and Yonkers Road, who was yelling at passing cars. A couple of callers said they thought he had a gun.
All three officers said they, along with a fourth Raleigh police officer and a State Highway Patrol trooper, surrounded Hinton to make sure he didn't try to dart into traffic as they assessed his situation.
"He was just yelling an endless stream of nonsense, but it was all religious themed," Klingenmaier testified. "Just incoherent, illogical things, but it all had a religious undertone."
The three officers said they believed Hinton was either on a mind-altering drug like PCP or was suffering a severe mental break.
"He kind of seemed out of mind, I guess you would say," Gomes said. "He seemed to be freaking out."
Klingenmaier said he tried to ask Hinton some questions, noting that he had been trained that engaging people in crisis in conversation can de-escalate the situation. But Hinton didn't seem to even notice he was there, he said, so he called for a supervisor to come to the scene to help determine a course of action.
Gomes said he pulled out his stun gun to have it ready, but he never fired it, keeping it behind his back so he didn't "spook" Hinton.
All three officers said they quickly determined the reports of Hinton brandishing a gun were false, noting that he had a cellphone in his hand. But they acknowledged that they hadn't frisked him to see if there was a gun anywhere on him.
Broadwell then showed up and, within anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, based on the officers' recollections, he had his K-9, Loki, out and was yelling at Hinton to get on the ground.
When Hinton didn't respond, Loki was unleashed and latched onto Hinton's right arm. Broadwell then tackled Hinton, and the other officers joined in the scrum to subdue Hinton and handcuff him.
Gomes and Martucci said they could see Hinton grabbing at Loki's snout during the struggle, trying to wrench it open so he could free his arm.
Gomes said Hinton had pulled his hands under his body on the ground, so he punched him in the hip three times to try to get to one of his hands. Klingenmaier and Martucci said they didn't strike Hinton.
Klingenmaier said he saw someone hit Hinton three to five times in the back of the head and someone hit Hinton in the head with a flashlight. He said he wasn't sure who it was, other than noting that whoever it was wasn't wearing a Raleigh police uniform.
Broadwell is accused of hitting Hinton in the head several times, while former Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Blake is also accused of striking Hinton and of ordering former Trooper Tabithia Davis to hit Hinton with her flashlight.
Blake and Davis were fired last June and face charges of felony assault and willfully failing to discharge duties.
The Highway Patrol also fired Sgt. Rodney Goswick. He, Blake and Davis are charged with lying to patrol investigators about their use of force during Hinton's arrest.
Broadwell's defense attorneys say he was responding to the report of a man with a gun and an initial call from the first Highway Patrol trooper on the scene that he needed urgent help. They have argued that the deputy made a split-second decision to unleash his K-9 to protect the public and the other officers on the scene.
Gomes, Klingenmaier and Martucci all testified that they didn't think the K-9 was necessary, but Broadwell didn't confer with them before taking action.
"Basically, the dog came out. That action was not communicated to us that the K-9 was going to be utilized on Mr. Hinton," Klingenmaier said, adding that it "sped up the scenario."
The three officers said Hinton wasn't aggressive toward anyone, and they wanted to take their time to figure out how to get him in custody.
"He was just standing in the roadway in a static position," Klingenmaier said. “Given that Mr. Hinton stayed in that position and was not moving, I thought that we had time to come up with a plan to make a decision."
"As long as his hands were occupied, I would have liked to communicate with the officer to my left to see what we could have come up with," Martucci agreed.
"While you were there, did you feel that Kyron Hinton was an immediate threat to you?" Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour asked Gomes.
"To me, no," the officer replied.
"Was he a threat before the defendant let that dog loose?" Latour asked.
"To me, no,” Gomes replied.
Defense attorney Rick Gannon presented the officers with hypothetical situations that he contends Broadwell had to take into account when he arrived on the scene.
"If he had pulled a gun out, he would have become an immediate threat, right?" Gannon asked Martucci.
"Yes, sir," the officer replied.
Latour countered that line of questioning: "All of those questions like that – if – are those the same situation that you found yourself in, or are those different situations?"
"Those are potentially different situations," Martucci said.
"Those 'ifs' didn't happen?" Latour asked.
"No, sir," the officer replied.
Gannon questioned Klingenmaier about the use of a K-9 to subdue Hinton.
"In your opinion, the use of the K-9 was effective in this situation. Is that correct?" he asked.
"Yes," the officer replied.
Latour again countered: "Is there a difference in your mind between effective and appropriate?"
"Yes," Klingenmaier said.
"Would shooting Kyron Hinton been an effective technique?" Latour asked.
"Yes," the officer replied.
"Would that necessarily have been an appropriate technique, in your opinion?" Latour asked.
"No," the officer replied.
Prosecution testimony is expected to continue Monday morning.