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News Roundup

Last week the News Roundup noted that staff at prisons and jails are expected to be among the first Americans to receive COVID vaccinations when they become available and that there is an ongoing national debate about how to prioritize vaccination of incarcerated people.  The Charlotte Observer reported this week that the Mecklenburg County jail has been placed on lockdown for at least two days because of a massive surge in the number of cases at the facility.  In a statement released Thursday, the sheriff’s office said that 107 inmates and 20 staff members recently tested positive for the virus.  Keep reading for more news.

Charlotte COVID.  Last week’s roundup also noted that the ongoing pandemic has severely slowed the pace of the state’s criminal courts, including an anecdote that the first jury trial in Mecklenburg County since March ended in a mistrial after a juror potentially was exposed to the virus.  The news about the Mecklenburg jail outbreak appears poised to further impede proceedings in the county as the lockdown will preclude attorney-client visits and transportation of inmates to the courthouse for hearings.  In addition, jury trials in the county are suspended for at least the rest of this month.

In yet more news related to the virus out of Charlotte, WCNC reported this week that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings and Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch each have tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling, along with Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, to Wilmington for a meeting about the impact of exposure to violence during childhood hosted by the Hanover/Pender County District Attorney’s Office.  Merriweather has tested negative but is quarantining because of the exposure

Buncombe COVID.  As another reminder of how easily the coronavirus can be spread in detention facilities, WLOS reported this week that the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office has announced that four officers at the Buncombe County Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 other officers are quarantining due to close contact with the confirmed cases.  The WLOS story says that spread among inmates at the detention center has not been detected at this time.

Alleged Assault.  The Winston-Salem Journal reports that a Forsyth County man is facing criminal charges after allegedly assaulting members of a family who were riding in a car displaying signs supporting Black Lives Matter and calling for the prosecution of police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.  The defendant, Rod Steven Sturdy, allegedly tailgated the family’s car as they drove to a dental office where he then blocked them in the parking lot and punched two of them while using racist language.

APD Funding.  Tension between the Asheville Police Department and city officials and a high rate of departures from the city’s force have been recurrent news stories this year.  The trend continues this week as WLOS reports that APD Chief David Zack says that officers in his department are upset that Asheville City Council member Kim Roney recently voted against funding increases for the department.  Zack said that the funding was to be used for bulletproof vests.  Despite Roney’s vote, the city council approved grant and matching city funding for the vests.

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