News Roundup

Three Wilmington police officers were fired on Wednesday after dash-cam footage from an officer’s patrol vehicle showed the officers engaging in racist conversations with each other, including one conversation that was explicitly violent.  The conversations occurred in early June, soon after protests started in Wilmington related to the killing of George Floyd.  The officers, Michael ‘Kevin’ Piner, Jesse E. Moore II, and James ‘Brian’ Gilmore each had been with the Wilmington Police Department since the late 90’s.  The content of the conversations is horrifying and the story has become national news.  Keep reading for more on this and other news.

Wilmington. As the Port City Daily reports, during a routine audit of footage from former officer Michael ‘Kevin’ Piner’s vehicle, a supervisor discovered a phone conversation Piner had in his vehicle with former officer Jessie Moore where Moore repeatedly used a racial slur to refer to a woman he had arrested the previous day.  Moore said that the woman he arrested “needed a bullet in her head right then,” a sentiment that Piner shared and claimed he had “been trying to tell” Moore for some time.  The two also discussed their dislike of a particular  black magistrate, insulting the magistrate and using racist and sexual language as Moore recounted that the magistrate had discussed using involuntary commitment rather than criminal charges to address the substance abuse issues of the woman Moore thought needed to be shot in the head.

Their conversation then turned to Piner’s view that a race-based “civil war” was coming and his imminent plan to buy a new assault rifle.  Piner said that “we are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them,” using an expletive and racial slur.  When Moore said that he would not do that, Piner stated “I am ready” and went on to say that a racial war was necessary to “wipe ’em off the [expletive] map [and] . . . put ’em back about four or five generations.”

The discovery of this conversation apparently led to the discovery of another from earlier in the day where Piner and former officer James ‘Brian’ Gilmore expressed their frustration that the Wilmington Police Department was “kneeling down with the black folks.”  The two then proceed to criticize and insult black officers on the Wilmington PD.

During an internal investigation, all three officers admitted that it was their voices on the videos, did not deny the things that were said, and did deny being racist.  Yesterday WECT reported that the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office has dismissed 89 pending cases involving the former officers and has invited people with resolved cases involving the officers to contact the office if they believe the officers’ bias led to the charge.  The announcement of the firing of the officers and the racist statements also was a factor in Wilmington’s decision to take down two Confederate monuments this week.

Second Chance.  Last week the News Roundup noted that the General Assembly had passed the First Step Act and the Second Chance Act, criminal justice reform bills that increase judicial discretion in drug trafficking sentencing and expand opportunities for expunctions.  ABC 11 reported yesterday that Governor Cooper has signed the Second Chance Act into law.

Durham Protest Arrests.  WRAL reports that four people were arrested and charged  yesterday after blocking the street outside the Durham Police Department as part of an ongoing protest calling for a reduction in funding for the agency.  Deonte Moses, Matthew Helton, Sheddrick Gibbs, and Matthew Butler were charged with impeding the flow of traffic and RDO.  The WRAL report says that Gibbs is the leader of a group that has been staging a sit-in at the department since early last week.

Alamance Protest Arrests.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that competing demonstrations in Alamance County over a Confederate monument resulted in assault and disorderly conduct charges against two men when one of them hit Elon University professor Megan Squire, who was protesting the statue.  As officers were in the process of arresting Chadwick Hightower for allegedly swinging his hand at a person who was taking photographs of him near the statue, they allegedly saw Christopher Overman punch Squire in the arm and immediately arrested him as well.  Squire researches right-wing extremism at Elon according to the article.

Charlotte Shooting.  As WBTV reports, there was a major shooting in Charlotte in the early hours of Monday morning that involved more than 100 gunshots and left four people dead with several others injured, either by gunfire or by vehicles attempting to flee the scene.  The shooting took place at a large impromptu block party where hundreds of people had gathered.

California Hanging Update.  The News Roundup noted last week that investigators were taking a closer look at the hanging deaths of two black men in California after questions were raised about whether the deaths were suicides.  California news outlet ABC 7 reported this week that the death of one of those men, Malcolm Harsch, has been conclusively ruled a suicide based on discovered surveillance footage.

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