Officer Indicted for Assault of Woman During Traffic Stop

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In November 2013, a woman claimed she was assaulted by an officer as he was taking her into custody. Yesterday, the Hickory police officer turned himself in to the Catawba County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office in response to a grand jury indictment. Released on bond, he is scheduled for arraignment on Friday.

What happened? Not surprisingly, the victim’s and the officer’s accounts of the events differ. What they agree on is that the officer, then a sergeant, stopped the woman on a suspected traffic violation. According to the victim, she could not find the registration for the car because it was borrowed. She called the owner of the car to find out where the information was.

During the call, she said, the officer demanded that she and her passenger get out of the car so he could search it. The victim responded that he would need a warrant to search the vehicle. It was then, she said, that the officer pulled her from the car, handcuffed her and threw her to the ground.

He took the woman and her passenger into custody but charged only the victim with disruptive behavior and resisting arrest. Facial injuries are visible in a mug shot of the victim taken that evening, though the record shows no explanation for the injuries.

The indictment does not come out of thin air. The police department conducted an internal investigation that resulted in the officer’s termination. The investigators concluded that he had violated departmental policies, but the department offered no additional information.

That is, the department offered no additional information to the public. The police chief turned the file over to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for an independent investigation. The results of the SBI investigation led to the grand jury’s indictment.

The former officer is charged with felony assault. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Sources: 

WBTV, “Source: Former police officer to be indicted for assaulting prisoner,” March 19, 2014

The Hickory Record, “Indictment released: Fired Hickory police officer faces felony assault charge,” Alex Frick, March 19, 2014