News Roundup

WCNC reports that the Mecklenburg County Courthouse was closed all of this week because of a covid outbreak among employees.  All sessions of district and superior court were rescheduled.  The WCNC story says that at least 29 employees were in quarantine because of potential exposure to the virus.  Keep reading for more news.

Raleigh PD.  ABC 11 reports that Estella Patterson was formally sworn in as Raleigh Police Chief in a ceremony at the Duke Energy Center yesterday.  Before being selected to lead the Raleigh Police Department, Patterson had been with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department since 1996.

Forest City.  A Forest City police officer is in stable but critical condition after being shot on Monday while responding to a call for service.  Jamie Hill and other officers encountered Akeil Franklin in a wooded area after receiving a call of suspicious activity.  Police Chief Chris LeRoy said that when the officers tried to speak with Hill, he pulled a gun and fired at them causing the officers to return fire.  Hill was flown to the hospital and the SBI is investigating the incident.

Murder Plea.  The Fayetteville Observer reports that a woman pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court this week to a charge of second-degree murder arising from the death of her infant son in 1999.  Deborah Riddle O’Conner was identified by DNA as the mother of a newborn child who was found dead in a bag near a rural road in Cumberland County.  Sheriff’s Office investigators named the then-unknown child “Baby Michael.”  O’Conner said at her sentencing hearing that she was in a bad situation when the child was born and asked the community for forgiveness.

Madison Sheriff Race.  The Asheville Citizen-Times reported this week that a former Madison County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was terminated in 2020 after the release of a viral video now is running for Sheriff.  Former deputy Jim Cruzan, who previously served two terms as Sheriff in Jackson County, tried to stop a man from filming in the courthouse and used foul language towards his own wife, who also was on duty and attempting to deescalate an evolving argument between the man who was filming and Cruzan.  Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood recently announced that he will run for a third consecutive term.

High Point.  The Highpoint Enterprise reports that the family of Fred Cox Jr. has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department and deputy Michael Shane Hill alleging use of excessive force, wrongful death, and patterns and practices that violate the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments.  Cox was fatally shot by Hill at a funeral in November that was interrupted by a drive-by shooting.  Hill was at the funeral as part of an investigation into the death.  Cox’s family said that he was helping people take cover from the drive-by in the doorway of the church when he was shot by Hill.  Earlier this summer a grand jury declined to file criminal charges against Hill based on the incident.