Troopers charged in Raleigh man's beating fired, sergeant placed on administrative duty
Posted June 15, 2018 12:14 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:09 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Two State Highway Patrol troopers charged with beating a Raleigh man during an April arrest were fired Friday, officials said.
Meanwhile, Highway Patrol Sgt. R.W. Goswick, who also was on the scene during the incident, has been placed on administrative duty.
Troopers Michael Blake and Tabithia Davis were terminated following an internal investigation, said First Sgt. Michael Baker, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
Blake, Davis and Wake County Sheriff's Office Deputy Cameron Broadwell have been indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and willfully failing to discharge duties. Broadwell also faces a charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury.
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 hitting Hinton as his K-9, Loki, takes Hinton to the ground.
During the ensuing scrum with several officers, one officer is seen kicking Hinton, while another can be 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.
The indictments allege Broadwell and Blake beat and kicked Hinton and that Davis hit him with her flashlight.
No gun was found on or near Hinton.
Audio: Superior told troopers to file 'no use of force' reports
In an effort to obtain the personnel records of Blake and Davis as part of the investigation and prosecution of the case, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Friday that she believes they may have lied in a report they filed about the case.
Freeman told Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley during a court hearing Friday morning that Blake and Davis can be heard in an audio recording from Davis' patrol car after Hinton's arrest discussing reporting that no force was used in the incident. She wants to see if such statements were made in the internal report they filed with the Highway Patrol.
"The state has not seen these statements. I do not know what was in them, but I do know what was discussed on that audio, and it would be the state's position that, if these officers, in fact, went in the next day and filed reports reflecting no use of force when there was a use of force, that is information that would be important for the state of North Carolina to have," Freeman said.
A State Bureau of Investigation agent detailed the dashcam audio in an affidavit filed with the court Thursday.
Davis can be heard in the audio referring to "body blows" Hinton received and noted she had blood on her flashlight and her hands. She told Goswick, who arrived at the scene a short time later, that she had hit Hinton in the head, and Blake said he had kicked Hinton in the ribs and had been the one to issue the command for Davis to hit Hinton in the head.
"That was one strong dude," one trooper says in the recording.
"He was. I seen him, like, after I hit him in the head," Davis replies.
"That's why I said, 'Hit him in the head' because nothing else was working," Blake says. "He was trying to coil up and put his hand underneath his body. I'm like, this ain't (expletive) working."
Goswick then told the troopers that he had reviewed video of the incident and that no use of force by them could be seen.
"We didn't use any use of force. Only thing y'all were doing was just holding his legs down," Goswick says. "I saw you and you were trying to get him down because everybody was swarming on him, and you were just trying to help out.
"Y'all three just write a statement, send it to me, and we'll put it in the folder – no use of force on our part," the sergeant tells Blake, Davis and Trooper Zachary Bumgardner, who was the first officer on the scene that night.
"Wake County has already said they're going to do a use of force because of the K-9, so we're covered there," Goswick says. "The only thing y'all did was assist in holding the man down. No punches. I watched the video. Nobody threw any punches. We're good."
The SBI affidavit notes that Goswick's statements contradict what Blake and Davis said about hitting Hinton.
Defense attorneys said Blake and Davis were ordered by their superiors to submit a report on the incident, and allowing those documents into evidence would violate their constitutional right to remain silent.
Freeman said the troopers' personnel files also could help determine if either Blake or Davis has been involved in a previous use-of-force complaint.
The SBI affidavit notes that Blake has admitted to being the subject of one previous use-of-force investigation but said he was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. The SBI said it is aware of other excessive force complaints against him.
Shirley said he would look at the documents himself and decide what is admissible in court.
"I'm going to get everything," Shirley said. "Right now, my intention is to grant their motion. Everything they've requested is going to come to me, and I'm going to review everything to determine whether there are materials that can be released."
The judge also approved a petition by the defense that Hinton's medical records be preserved. Attorneys said the records could reveal substance abuse or mental health issues Hinton might have that could be relevant in the case.
Hinton has admitted he had been drinking and was on drugs the night of April 3, saying he was having a crisis.
He also had a medical crisis on June 3, when he was cited with assault on a law enforcement officer as deputies were assisting him in an ambulance.