A story from a reliable confidential source relating to Morganton Shenanigans:
On Monday February 6, 2012, a lifelong resident
of Morganton came to Morganton City Council to express his issues with
what he described as a "False Arrest" on January 30, 2012. Mr. Roper
began his comments saying he had been told he would have ten to fifteen
minutes to speak but actually captivated those in the council chamber
for almost twenty minutes.
Joe Eddy Roper lives on College Street in
Morganton, about a mile from Morganton Public Safety Headquarters and
next to a busy area of Morganton, Fleming Bypass. In his own words Mr.
Roper described the events of January 30, where he was ordered out of
his car at gunpoint by Morganton Public Safety Officer Kim Davis and
immediately "slammed" onto the hood of the patrol car followed by being
handcuffed so tightly he had severe injury to both wrists.
Mr. Roper demonstrated his rotator cuff injury
saying he did not have full un-restricted use of his left arm, and still
experienced numbness in his fingers. Mr. Roper is 75 years old and
although he was a wrestler in his younger days he is not as "quick" and
able to move as he was in his younger days. Joe Eddy demanded Morganton
City Council fire officer Kim Davis and an unnamed backup officer for
what he described as 'police brutality' on January 30th.
Mr. Roper stated that "50 years ago, if he had
been treated as he was on January 30, he wouldn't have 'took it' off the
officers and they may have been hurt and hurt bad." Mr. Roper further
said "If Morganton cannot operate a reasonable and fair police
department, maybe a new chief should be hired."
Joe Eddy spoke of his work and accomplishments
during his life, stating he had twenty years in law enforcement and he
would not ever have "jerked away" from an officer in a manner appearing
to be resisting arrest and especially now that he is 75 years old. He
told those at city council he had been asked to be a chief deputy at
Burke County Sheriff's Department during the time David Oaks was sheriff
in the 1960's and had been asked to accept the Chief of Police job at
Drexel in the past, but did not work in those positions.
Joe Eddy has been a teacher and NC Driver's
License Examiner in Burke County and continued to tell city council
about threats against himself and his son by an individual he named as
"Eric Nichols." Mr. Nichols reportedly has threatened to kill both Joe
Eddy Roper and his son on multiple occasions and has "pulled a gun" on
both of them more than once including in the parking lot of Mighty
Dollar - a dollar store less than a mile from Joe Eddy's home. On Monday
January 30, when confronted by Eric Nichols, Joe Eddy said he reached
for a can of mace, but decided instead to get into his car and go home.
Joe Eddy told Morganton City Council, "There are
two reasons most people do not come before this city council, one they
fear retaliation from the establishment, this city council, or they
have no money. Joe Eddy continued saying, "I don't fall into either of
When he left the store Public Safety was called
to a report of a domestic disturbance in the parking lot of the dollar
store. After arriving officers immediately went to Joe Eddy's home where
he was forced from his car at gunpoint by officer Kim Davis. It is this
reporters belief based on many citizens telling of incidents of
excessive use of force that Morganton officers who are "cross trained"
both as police and firefighters, leads to fatigue and shorter fuses as
to how they respond to people in apparent criminal situations.
As Joe Eddy finished his comments, he stated
"this is not going to go away tomorrow. Joe Eddy Roper will be here
tomorrow and I will follow-up on this until I am satisfied it has been
resolved, however long it takes."
Last summer, a 17 year old Freedom High student
was shot and killed at his home when he answered the door and the
officer stated "he saw a gun" and when the suspect was ordered to drop
the weapon, he did not (according to the officer) and he was shot and
killed. The mother still maintains Public Safety never announced
themselves as "the police" but after knocking on the door and seeing the
young man holding a BB gun started shooting, killing the young man.
That case was ultimately 'cleared' by the
District Attorney's office, but the mother attempted to sue Morganton as
she maintains they did not identify that they were "the police" and
just killed her son without justification. Morganton has had several
incidents recently such as this, and many citizens believe the fact that
officers are required to do "two jobs" they are more stressed than just
police officers who face similar circumstances.
Morganton is the only municipality in North
Carolina (other than Butner, a prison near Raleigh) that has "Public
Safety" in which officers are required to do two jobs and as such it
seems Morganton is setting itself up for disaster by overextending the
limits of 'one person' by requiring them to do two jobs. All other towns
and cities that have been "public safety" now have 'switched back' to separate police and fire departments because of low morale and dangerous
situations faced by people doing two dangerous jobs.
It has been said that Police Officers deal with
people, and Fireman deal with things and the two should do only one job
because of the nature of the work and to be able to provide citizens
with the best protection possible.
I have been a critic of the "public
safety" enforcement model for years, and as we continue to see people
treated in a manner other than within "due process" Morganton will
continue to become a less desirable place to live.