Archived Story

Allegations spark response

Published 9:39am Thursday, August 30, 2012

MURFREESBORO – The Murfreesboro Town Council and the Chief of Police have responded to accusations lodged against police officers here.

On Tuesday, Mayor John Hinton provided the town’s response to the accusations after Rev. Walter Elliott read a memorandum from Dennis Stephenson during public comments at the monthly Town Council meeting.

In the memorandum sent to Hinton and Council members, Stephenson accused Murfreesboro police officers of “criminal behavior and civil rights violations” against residents. The accusations stem from an Aug. 25 incident which led to Christine Hicks being taken into custody by the MPD.

Among allegations listed in the memorandum dated Tuesday (Aug. 28) are that officers physically assaulted Hicks, pushed bystanders without provocation, used profanity, threatened citizens, and racial profiling.

The memorandum also accuses the District Court magistrate “with fabricating false charges” and Hertford County EMS with being “unprofessional in delivery of services” and making inappropriate comments.

“We appeal to you, our elected leaders, to initiate an independent investigation from the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) regarding these matters,” Stephenson wrote. “We ask that you appoint an independent citizens panel to oversee the management of the Murfreesboro Police Department while this investigation is ongoing to ensure the rights of our citizens are not further violated. We are also requesting an investigation by the NAACP due to our lack of trust and confidence in our appointed officials because of their extremely racist and unprofessional behavior.”

Mayor Hinton questioned Elliott if he, and/or the family, were aware the council had seen the film of the incident from the dashboard camera of a Murfreesboro Police vehicle at the scene of the Aug. 25 incident.

Elliott said he was not aware of it, but was reading the memorandum as “hearsay.”

“I would urge if the family wishes to pursue this to the SBI that is exactly what they should do, we’ll make the film public,” Hinton said.

Hinton then referred to Police Chief Darrell Rowe and asked if he had anything to say.

Rowe encouraged an investigation as well.

“The tape speaks for itself,” Rowe said. “Members of the Council have seen the tape. The officers acted professionally and showed great restraint.”

“Based on the tape, should we pursue this you would be welcomed to go through the SBI and we will make the tape public to them,” Hinton reiterated to Elliott.

According to the arrest report, Hicks of East Main Street was arrested and charged with one count of intoxicated and disruptive, two counts of assault on a government official and one count of resist, delay and obstruct. She was given a secured bond of $4,000.

According to Rowe, on Aug. 25 officers were performing a traffic stop on a vehicle, which pulled into Hick’s yard, for a minor infraction. The driver was eventually let go with a warning.

Rowe said a large crowd of people had gathered during that traffic stop and police back-up was called to the scene.

Rowe said Hicks interfered with the vehicle stop and assaulted two officers by striking one in the nose and slapping the other.

“Unfortunately, the allegations have been made with no basis,” Rowe said.

Rowe said his officers conducted themselves in a professional manner and they also showed great restraint during the vehicle stop and arrest.

“I am very glad the entire incident was captured on dash-cam video, it verifies everything the officers said happened,” he said. “I’ve worked very hard to have a good relationship with the community. I would hate to have that reputation besmirched by untrue statements.”

Rowe said there is a complaint process for the department in place. No complaints regarding the incident were filed with the department.

  • hemlock

    I love it. Form a committee to oversee the police and use our citizens to do, but no matter who you put on there, we will not trust it. And we wonder why this county has just crept into the 1980′s. This is why there can be no racial healing in this county, no one wants it to heal. That would mean, heaven forbid, someone would have to think and TRUST someone of another race.

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  • lemonshirt

    And all these years we’ve been fretting about how Orwellian technological advances might erode our liberties. Turns out those technologies are equally functional at protecting Big Brother from us.

    Who would have ever thunk it? (probably not George Orwell!)

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    • Jame Gumb

      Kind of reminds one of a wildlife camera mounted from behind a fish hatchery near a government owned residence where some one lives for free in order to gross up his w-2 by tens of thousands to keep retirement average at the level of prior job that paid much more. just thinkin…..

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  • headband

    worldwide… did any of these young black males file a complaint? Or did they just whine and complain about the situation?

    worlwide.. I wasn’t there but something seems to be missing from your story. The police had to have some valid reason to stop you.

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  • Mr.R

    “oh, there was a camera?”

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  • worldwide

    To any young black male that has been in Murfreesboro these last few months knows this to be true. There has been a lot of racial profiling going on recntly. Recently i was pulled over i hadn’t committed a driving violation or anything. The first thing they did was pull me out the car didn’t state what they was pulling me over for nor did they ak me for my license they immediatly pulled out the dog and got to searching my vehicle. On another occasion i travelled over the yellow line and was stopped, rather than give me a ticket or a warning they pulled me out of my vehicle and did another illegal search violating my 4th amendment rights. My story is just one of the few, you have so many young black males recently saying the same things in the community of Murfreesboro. At the same time its always the same officers that does these illegal stops. I think that any youg black male that has been illegaly stopped over these last months for no reason and has been searched we should get together and yell our stories and let our voice be heard, or continue to let theses illigal practices continue.

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  • headband

    I agree cherokee! It’s like the story about the boy who cried wolf. If and when a real “civil rights violation” occurs, nobody going to believe the complaint.

    Not to mention, Hicks bond should have been set a lot higher than $4,000! These officers were just doing their jobs. I guarantee if Hicks find herself in an emergency, these same “racist” officers will be there to help her.

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  • cherokee

    Here we go again with people wanting to sue when they are indeed the ones committing the offense’s. I applaud the officers to have the incident on tape to shut up the accusers and to prove innocent of the charges for the PD. This happens all the time and takes up so much court time for accusations leveled by an intoxicated citizen wanting to make something out of it if you mess with “my people”. I wonder if these people are related to the woman who sued McDonald”s over thier coffee being so hot? How much would you like to bet that after thier attny sees the tape , charges will probably be dropped!!

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