Internal Investigation Into Greensboro Police Officer Sanders Complete

7:00 PM, Nov 20, 2009   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- After four years of racial discrimination allegations, the Greensboro Police Department has completed its internal investigations, according to an attorney for an accused officer.

The allegations began during the administration of former Chief David Wray in 2003.

That's when Lieutenant James Hinson claimed the department and chief targeted him and other black officers.

Officer Scott Sanders said he was the subject of eight investigations. An e-mail to the city council Friday from City Manager Rashad Young stated there were "at least six."

"I've been fighting for four years, it's hard to all of a sudden switch it off," Sanders said.

He received word Thursday from Chief Tim Bellamy that the final investigation about him was over.

WEB EXTRA: To read Chief Tim Bellamy's memo to Sanders, click here.

The memo stated Sanders can return to regular duty, which he plans to do sometime after Thanksgiving.

"After four years, I'll be honest with you, right now I still don't think it's really sunken in," Sanders said.

A jury found him not guilty of computer-related crimes in February.

That ended a suspension that he says began in Oct. 2006.
Since February, he's been working on administrative duties as the police department continued its internal investigation.

"They've had me do various things. Answer the phone in the chief's office, alphabetize paperwork, folded pants, shirts, cleaned guns. Not really what I signed up for," he said.

Sanders said he will complete an inventory-related task assigned to him before returning to duty.

What is reaction from city council?

Members of the city council found out that the investigations were over Thursday through an e-mail from the city manager.

Rakestraw provided a copy to WFMY News 2. In the e-mail, Young wrote:

"FYI the personnel investigation of Scott Sanders has been completed and Mr. Sanders has been exonerated and will be returning to his normal assignment at the conclusion of his special project. He and his attorney have been advised of the outcome."

They received further details in an e-mail Friday from Young.

WEB EXTRA: To read the Friday's e-mail to council members, click here. Note: some personnel-related issues were removed by the city before releasing the e-mail to WFMY News 2.

Mayor Yvonne Johnson said having the investigations closed is a "big relief." 

She said she could not comment further about the outcome.

Council member Mary Rakestraw said, "This should never happen again to any officer."

WFMY News 2 contacted the other city council members Friday for comment, but did not receive calls back by Friday night.

What were the allegations?

The allegations against Sanders included that he and officer Tom Fox used a so-called "black book" to target African-American officers.

According to Sanders' attorney, Seth Cohen, allegations against Sanders also included that Lt. James Hinson was illegally surveilled; That Sanders obstructed justice; That he was involved in computer crimes; That he held a woman against her will; That he illegally taped prominent black citizens; That he committed perjury at his trial.

Sgt. Tom Fox, officer Brian Bissett and officer Bobby Edwards were also cleared of the allegations they faced.

"In every internal investigation, all of the officers involved were found not guilty. Every single investigation, the allegations were unfounded," Cohen said.

What happens next?

"I want the people who perpetuated the falsehood that there is racial discrimination. I want them to be investigated properly and issues with that resolved. I think that's a first step in trying to resolve the racial divide of our department," Sanders said.

Neither Sander's attorney, nor the city will release the documentation from the investigations. Cohen said it would be a violation of a state statute.

He said the city council can vote to release the information.
Council member Mary Rakestraw said she plans to bring up the topic at an upcoming council meeting.

She said the council and citizens have the right to know what is in the investigation.

"We're at risk of this happening again if we don't know what went wrong," she said.

There is still an unresolved civil case filed by 39 black officers alleging racial discrimination, Cohen said.

Sanders and Cohen now want the city to pay all his legal expenses.

The city already paid back-pay to Sanders and officer Tom Fox. The money was owed to them from their suspensions.

WFMY News 2

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