With videos, new allegations surface against trooper accused in Raleigh man's beating
Posted August 2, 2018 12:26 p.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2018 5:10 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A State Highway Patrol trooper charged in the April beating of an unarmed Raleigh man could face more criminal charges in connection with other traffic stops he made.
In response to a petition filed by WRAL News and other media outlets, Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley on Thursday ordered the release of dashboard camera videos detailing stops made by Trooper Michael Blake in August 2016 and in March, days before Blake was involved in the arrest of Kyron Dwain Hinton in Raleigh, for which he was later charged and fired.
Kimberly Ingram, 44, a disabled Navy veteran, was pulled over by Blake on March 28 on Lumley Road off Interstate 540.
"Let me see your hands! Put your hands up! Put your hands up!" Blake yells at her as he pulls her out of the car and pushes her to the ground. "I am trying to be nice to you. Stop resisting. ... Stop resisting. I'm going to say it again, stop resisting."
"In our opinion, things were escalated when they didn't have to be," said attorney Donald Huggins, who represents Ingram. "As soon as Blake approaches her vehicle, pulling her out of the vehicle, she still has her seatbelt on and the car is still in drive."
Blake and another trooper pulled Ingram over, saying she had a fictitious license plate on her car, but the other trooper later determined they entered the wrong plate number when they were checking.
Still, Blake berates Ingram for not stopping when he and the other trooper first turned on their sirens and blue lights.
"I looked right at you and told you to stop. You just continued on. Who does that?" he says. "You're careless and reckless at this point, and that's why I'm trying to stop [you]."
"I didn't realize he was trying to pull me over," Ingram said Thursday as she watched the video of her arrest. "I was explaining to him, [and] he was laughing. He didn't believe me."
Ingram was handcuffed and held in Blake's patrol car for two hours while he called for a drug dog to search her car. She was cited with failure to stop for a blue light, a charge that prosecutors later dismissed.
She got emotional as she watched.
"It just rehashes the moment. My heart is really racing," she said. "There was no wrongdoing and clearly no reason for all that to happen in a traffic stop."
Ingram said she had to go to the emergency room that night for treatment of injuries she received in the stop.
Meanwhile, Raphael Rogers spent a week in the hospital after he was pulled over by Blake on U.S. Highway 1 in Apex on Aug. 31, 2016.
Blake initially stopped Rogers for speeding, saying he was going faster than 75 mph, and dashcam video shows the two men discuss real estate investments in Blake's patrol car while the trooper fills out the paperwork. Rogers says he just arrived in the Triangle from New York and had rented a car to drive to Wilmington to check on some rental properties.
Rogers tells Blake he hadn't been arrested since the 1980s, but a check of Rogers' criminal history shows he had been charged with drug trafficking in Lenoir County in 2011. Blake questions Rogers about drugs and asks to search his car.
A Cary Police Department K-9 is brought in to help search the car, and Rogers grows increasingly impatient as he sits in Blake's cruiser watching the search.
"I need to call my lawyer because this is crazy," he tells another trooper. "I'm being detained illegally."
Blake informs Rogers that the K-9 has signaled the presence of drugs in the car, but Rogers insists he doesn't have any drugs on him or in the car.
The rest of the incident occurs out of view of the dashcam, but Blake's mic picks up audio of the arrest outside the patrol car. A second trooper and the Cary K-9 officer also were involved.
"Turn around. Turn around. I'm going to tase you if you don't. Stop," Blake yells.
"Put your hands behind your back!" various officers yell at different times. "Get your arms behind you. No. You want some more elbows? Get them back there."
After a minute or so, a sharp sound can be heard, followed by a muffled cry.
"Bring the other one back, or I'll do it again," Blake tells him.
Once Rogers is handcuffed, Blake lectures him on the folly of trying to resist arrest.
"All you had to do was put your hands behind your back. You chose to resist, then you chose not to respond to the Taser right away," he says. "You chose to flee and then fight. That's why you got tased. That's why you got hit.
"You think you're going to mess with troopers and everything's going to be OK? No," he continues. "It took three of us to put you on the ground, and then when that happened, you were trying to grab for my gun."
Rogers apparently disputes that he was reaching for Blake's gun because the trooper then yells, "Oh, yes you were. Oh, yes you were."
Both Ingram and Rogers filed complaints about Blake with the Highway Patrol. Ingram also filed suit in June against the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the patrol.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said her office is reviewing the video from Ingram's traffic stop for possible criminal charges against Blake. Prosecutors haven't yet reviewed the video of Rogers' traffic stop.
Blake's attorney, Joe Cheshire, says his client is being unfairly targeted before his criminal trial.
"What concerns me about this is that people will see this, and then they will jump to conclusions," Cheshire said.
Blake, Trooper Tabithia Davis and Wake County Sheriff's Office Deputy Cameron Broadwell were indicted in June on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and willfully failing to discharge duties in connection with Hinton's April 3 arrest.
A number of law enforcement officers confronted Hinton, 29, near the intersection of North Raleigh Boulevard and Yonkers Road in Raleigh as officers responded to reports of a man with a gun yelling at passing cars.
Hinton said 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. Like Ingram, he has filed suit against DPS over the troopers' actions.
Blake and Davis were later fired following an internal investigation by the Highway Patrol.
"He decided to go through his entire life protecting us, and now he's having to go through all this," Cheshire said. "We don't understand why we just throw our public servants under the bus without an absolute clear understanding of what happened from everybody. I think, when we get through with this case, you will see that."
Cheshire said he believes Blake did nothing wrong in any of the cases. Once all of the facts come out, he said, Blake will be found not guilty of the criminal charges against him.
"We're absolutely confident [as] his lawyers, having seen what you've seen, that he did absolutely nothing wrong," Cheshire said. "We don't even understand why he's charged, and now they're looking at charging him for another incident?"
The Highway Patrol declined to comment on the new videos, citing Blake's appeal of his firing.
"The State Highway Patrol Is attempting to be as transparent as possible, which is why we did not object to the release of the recordings provided today," First Sgt. Michael Baker, a spokesman for the agency, said in an email. "However, Blake’s administrative case is still pending, and until it is resolved, we cannot provide any further comment."