On May 15th, 2015, I published an article titled "Enough is Enough". I will not rehash it other than to say this article is going to be eerily similar. Frankly, I had forgotten that I used that title but apparently some of you remembered it because it has been recently read again by several folks. Have things gotten better? NO; in fact much worse.
Our magical Mayor Nancy Vaughn has developed a new trick in which she turns criminals into victims. Fox 8's headline regarding the "disturbing" Body Worn Camera video had me concerned that I was about to witness a vicious assault on some poor, helpless and innocent African American man with absolutely no reason to even approach him. Media outlets charged that the incident was needlessly escalated by the Police Officers on scene and reported on potential riots in Greensboro. Of all the "incidents" of reported police abuse covered by the News and Record and the local TV stations, my first concern was "Did they actually get one right?"
So onto the Fox 8 website I go, just as I did in May 2015 to watch the latest reportedly "disturbing" video. What did I find; the same ridiculous accusation accompanied by no investigation of the facts surrounding the case. However, this isn't Fox 8's fault. The City of Greensboro, specifically the City Council is withholding the total facts of this case. Nancy Vaughn in her ridiculously embarrassing apology to Dejuan Yourse gave the impression that Police Officers approached an innocent man just minding his own business and not only harassed him and beat him but unlawfully arrested him. Of course, opportunistic agitator Nelson Johnson was right in the middle again, perpetuating his eternal hatred of the Greensboro Police Department and demanding that everybody be fired. Johnson is so desperate to have a "riot moment" here in Greensboro, I am sure he believed having this incident on the heels of Charlotte would finally fulfill his wish. Fortunately, his target audience appears to be just as apathetic as the 88.5% of registered voters that keep allowing these same ineffective Council members to be elected time and time again.
Of course, Johnson has a much bigger agenda item he is working on. He has a Chief of Police candidate in mind and has been working tirelessly to subvert Chief Wayne Scott. Johnson has continued to tell his members of the Beloved Community Center and anyone who will listen that he believes Chief Scott is racist. There is no evidence of that whatsoever and was born out of Johnson's frustration of not getting his way when Chief Scott was appointed. He even held a press conference about his disdain for the selection that ended with the chant "Greensboro, Ferguson, Ferguson, Greensboro". One city had absolutely nothing to do with the other, nor did Baltimore, New York or Charlotte. But that's how he operates and he has the Council and especially the City Manager scared to death. This Mayor and this Council should be ashamed of the way they have allowed the most notorious civil agitator in Greensboro's history to run roughshod over City Hall. In my opinion, Chief Scott should sue Johnson and make him prove that he is a racist. He can't prove it because IT IS NOT TRUE!!!
So who did Mayor Vaughn apologize to and what did she apologize for? Let me fill in the blanks.
Neighbors observed a subject using a shovel appearing to attempt prying open a garage door. Officers arrived and located the subject who decided to go and sit on the front porch with the shovel. He told them he was waiting on his mother and that he lived there. If you watched the video, you observed the conversation between both officers and our suspect as being cordial. Yes, he was a suspect; suspected of having a shovel and trying to pry open a door. He said that he did have the shovel under the garage door because he was "checking to see if his dog was in the garage". With a shovel? Is the dog deaf, mute with no sense of smell? Did the dog bark once during this incident?
He had no key. He was evasive about his name and even the pronunciation of his name. He said he had no ID though he later produced some document that had his information. As he was being lawfully and correctly detained, he became agitated and defensive; not because he was being detained but because he knew he was wanted, knew he was not supposed to be there and was concerned the officers were about to find out. He finally made a desperate attempt to call help but the officers intervened. A wrestling match ensued. The suspect shouted over and over "I am not resisting" as he proceeded to resist and struggle, fighting to keep from being handcuffed then continuing to resist after handcuffing so much that additional officers had to be called. The suspect had five felony warrants as well as having been banned from the residence he was trying to break into.
Was the video void of Officer mistakes? What we are seeing in these videos nationwide is use of profanity (especially the word "fuck") which quite frankly does nothing to enhance command presence and brings your professionalism down to the suspect's level. That plays into agitators hands. I cannot throw stones as I admittedly live in a glass house here. However, if we are going to use BWC's we are going to have to be more cognizant of our demeanor so that a contrast can be drawn between the bad behavior of the suspect and our professional behavior. Also, we cannot allow the suspect to trap us into arguments after the fact especially while the adrenaline is still pumping. There is no need to allow the suspect to try the case on the scene. Was there a "criminal" offense committed by either officer? Absolutely not and the District Attorney confirmed it. The ridiculous 8-0 vote by the Council to ask the District Attorney to reconsider charges on the officer is another example of the incompetence of this council to understand the real world of law enforcement and the total sell out of our Police Department and its' officers to the whims of Nelson Johnson.
More about the suspect who checks for dogs with shovels. Investigation shows 50 entries on his public criminal record since 2002. He has a couple of driving offenses (revoked license). He has been convicted of felony offenses regarding sales and possession of Cocaine. He has been charged with Auto Theft, Assault, Assault on a Female, Communicating Threats, numerous Felony Probation violations and even some Gran Jury indictments. The bulk of his criminal history is made up of crimes of deception; Forgery and Uttering, False Pretense, Possession of Stolen Goods, Financial Transaction Card Fraud, And yes, he has been charged and convicted of Resisting Arrest and Assault on a Government Official. In other words, he has a history of deception and feloniously stealing from others. This is who Nancy Vaughn apologized to as if he were some innocent, sweet unsuspecting citizen just enjoying his day on a front porch....with a shovel....that he used to check on a dog....by prying up a garage door....to a house that wasn't his.
Part of the problem with civilians depending on Body Worn Cameras is that they have no frame of reference in which to understand what they are seeing. This council has shown a propensity to take Nelson Johnson's word for everything, either out of ignorance or fear, and form their opinion (his opinion) on what he demands they see. I will guarantee you that none of the FACTS that I have just presented to you were even remotely considered by the council. As usual they made a decision and formed an opinion based on emotion and the bullying agenda of Nelson Johnson. He even convinced the owner of the house (his mother) to show up in the Council Chambers though she had banned her son from the property.
Did our crack elected civil servants even ask for all the information? You know our crack local newspaper investigative reporters didn't. Do they care? Of course not; police bashing is in style and Nelson Johnson is desperate for a national headline. He is desperate to get his man into the Chief's chair and is tired of waiting. He is running the city and no one on City Council seems to have the guts to put up even the least bit of resistance. 8-0.
Just as paying $50,000 to the Scales brothers without them even suing and giving $10,000 to an agitator who admitted fault in his law suit was asinine, our council continues to undermine our Police Department and it's ability to protect the entire community. They also have been allowed without challenge to dictate when charges are dropped though they have absolutely no legal authority to do so. Only one of them is even qualified to offer an opinion on criminal law. This council is no friend to the majority of Greensboro in general and the Greensboro Police Department and your officers in particular.
88.5%. That is how many of Greensboro's registered voters decided to have no say in how our city's business is conducted. Are we going to sit back and allow criminals to be treated as victims and police officers to be walked over for the political security of our Mayor and Council and appeasement of a notorious antagonizer? Does ANY of this resonate and at least make you wonder what else they may be hiding from you?
This situation is critical whether the local media or politicians admit it or not. Attrition is already occurring. Wake up; you are damn close to losing your Police Department. If Nelson Johnson gets his way, you will.