RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina prosecutor said Monday that criminal charges will not be filed against a white police officer whose own department said that he had violated its “use of force” policy when he arrested and punched a black man sitting on the front porch of his mother’s home.
Guilford County Chief Assistant District Attorney Howard Neumann said neither Travis Cole, an eight-year veteran of the Greensboro Police Department, nor six-year veteran Charlotte Jackson committed any crimes when they arrested Dejuan Yourse on June 17. The officers were dispatched to the home of Yourse’s mother in Greensboro after neighbors reported a possible break-in.
The case flashed into public view last week after video of the arrest taken from the body cameras worn by Jackson and Cole was shown at a Greensboro City Council meeting. It had been under internal police investigation since Yourse’s arrest. Neumann originally announced that no charges would be filed against the officers in August.
The footage captures Cole questioning Yourse amicably for several minutes. Seated on the porch, Yourse explains that he is waiting for his mother to return home. He doesn’t have a house key or identification, but he says neighbors know who he is. Yourse answers the officer’s questions with a respectful “Yes, sir.”
Yourse at one point then stands up, apparently thinking he would lead Cole to a familiar neighbor, but the officer touches his chest and presses Yourse backward and into his seat. Yourse fails to reach his mother by cell phone. He calls someone else and urges that person to come over because police are hassling him.
Cole then grabs Yourse’s phone, wrestles him to the floor of the porch, punches him and, with Jackson’s help, places handcuffs on him. Yourse says, “I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!” Cole insists that Yourse is resisting arrest and had assaulted the officer. Yourse was charged with both crimes.
Greensboro Police Officers Association attorney William Hill said in a statement that the use of force was reported to the officers’ supervisor at the scene. An administrative investigation of the arrest then filtered up several levels until it was brought to Police Chief Wayne Scott’s attention on Aug. 9.
Cole resigned 10 days later, and the charges against Yourse were dropped. Jackson resigned last week.
An internal investigation completed Aug. 30 determined that Cole violated police department policies including use of force, courtesy toward the public, and search and seizure, department spokeswoman Susan Danielsen wrote in an email Monday.
At a meeting on Sept. 26, city council not only showed the body camera video; officials also apologized to Yourse and his mother, Livia.
“It was ugly. It was brutal. It was completely unnecessary,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said.
Scott, the police chief, expressed dismay.
“We’re very unhappy with what’s contained in that video,” Scott said.
In a letter released Friday, Hill criticized city council’s action, accusing it of pursuing “a politically motivated witch hunt” in how it handled the matter.
Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com