Local News

Video of 2012 Dunn traffic stop showing officer's kick raises questions

Posted November 22, 2017 6:22 p.m. EST
Updated July 12, 2018 2:13 p.m. EDT

— Did Dunn police officers cross the line during a traffic stop five years ago?

Dash cam video obtained recently by WRAL News shows a Dunn police officer kicking a suspect who was already handcuffed and on the ground. City leaders, prosecutors and the NAACP are now taking a closer look at the video that has generated different opinions on the actions of the suspect and Dunn police officers.

Officers pulled Seneca Jackson over in 2012 on suspicion of speeding. He spoke to WRAL News about the incident on Wednesday, saying it was the first time that he has seen the footage, which was captured by a dash cam mounted inside a police cruiser.

"He's got my license right there and I'm going to hand it right back to him," Jackson said while recounting how the traffic stop unfolded. Jackson said he felt free to drive away and leave the scene, but the video records the officer saying he smells marijuana coming from the car and asking Jackson to get out of the vehicle.

Instead, Jackson takes off from the scene. That move prompts a chase by the officers, who activate their blue lights and pursue Jackson for a few miles before the vehicle stops.

He told WRAL News that he was trying to get to a location where there was more light.

"Where they stopped me, it was all dark," Jackson said. "Then they always try to do crazy stuff."

Officers ordered Jackson out of the car and told him to get on the ground. The two Dunn police officers eventually forced him to the ground and handcuffed him. In the video, it appears that one of the officers used a stun gun during the incident. The video footage shows that during a heated back-and-forth conversation, the female officer kicks Jackson.

"She told me to shut the hell up," Jackson said, adding that he was not injured by the kick. After the incident, police did not charge Jackson with a drug violation. He said he eventually pleaded guilty to fleeing to elude arrest and received probation.

"It was bad treatment," Jackson said.

The City of Dunn does not currently have an acting police chief.

City Manager Steven Neuschafer said he received a copy of the video last month, adding that the city has opened an investigation into the traffic stop.

"As the final decision maker for personnel matters, it is not appropriate for me to comment on the specific actions in the video," he said. "However, I do want to tell the residents of Dunn that I expect the highest level of professionalism and accountability for actions from all employees of the city."

The officer seen kicking Jackson remains on the force.

Carolyn McDougal, president of the Harnett County chapter of the NAACP, told WRAL News that "no one should be treated that way."

She said the group is scheduled to hold a press conference to talk more about the case and video on Tuesday.