It was a tense scene last night during the Asheville City Council meeting as District Attorney Ron Moore criticized the leadership of the Asheville Police Department for the handling of its evidence room. APD Chief Bill Hogan, meanwhile, said the problems were due to one individual who “betrayed the trust.” Council approved $175,000 to conduct a full audit.
The city of Asheville will settle a lawsuit from former Asheville Police Department Officer Cherie Byrd alleging that her superior, then-Sgt. Eric Lauffer, sent her sexually explicit text messages and phone calls. The city will pay Byrd $48,000 and reimburse her $4,100 in mediation fees.
A partial audit of the Asheville Police Department evidence room, completed last Friday and released by the District Attorney’s Office, reveals 115 missing items, including guns, drugs and money. The State Bureau of Investigation has sealed the evidence room, and are pursuing an investigation and full audit.
District Attorney Ron Moore will hold in abeyance APD felony cases while the State Bureau of Investigation looks into missing evidence in the APD property room. Meanwhile, Chief Bill Hogan asserts that the APD was following proper procedure in an earlier evidence audit, and calls the problems “regrettable.”
The State Bureau of Investigation has sealed, and is investigating, the Asheville Police Department property room due to 397 missing tablets of Oxycodone. The SBI claims the investigation was requested by the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office, while the APD claims the investigation began internally. Records obtained by Xpress reveal that the APD’s longtime evidence manager was placed under investigative suspension before his resignation earlier this year, though an APD official says “it’s difficult to speculate” if that’s related to the investigation.
The city of Asheville is shifting staff as part of an effort to improve social media and community relations. Asheville Police Department spokesperson Melissa Williams will move into a general community relations role, including overseeing the city’s blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts, while Lt. Wally Welch will take on public information duties at the APD.
In a 12-page set of guidelines obtained by Xpress, the Asheville Police Department spells out its rules for using force, including oversight, criteria for reasonable versus excessive force as well as what qualifies as deadly and non-deadly weapons.
Chanting “cops, pigs, murderers,” and “smash the state, burn the prisons, anarchy and communism,” about 40 people gathered in Pack Square early this evening to protest police actions (including the arrest of 11 alleged vandals on May 1) and gentrification. The group marched down near the Buncombe County jail and up to Pritchard Park.
Photo by Jerry Nelson
An anonymous group of anarchists has claimed responsibility for a Nov. 24 vandalism of the Department of Corrections building on McDowell Street. Police say the vandals slashed several vehicles’ tires and painted slogans like “Burn Prisons” on the building.
An announcement from the Asheville Police Department warns that a landmark community graffiti wall in the River District is now off-limits.
The Asheville Police Department has arrested Jessica Renee Hall, 32, of Candler on charges of assault with a deadly weapon for a hit and run last night at Westville Pub. Below are photos of the scene from Andrew Fedynak.
The Asheville Police Department reports an apparent murder-suicide in East Asheville, leaving two — Diana Smith McGovern, 50 and William Michael McGovern, 51 — dead.
About 7 p.m., a two-hour standoff in downtown Asheville ended without incident, as Hilton Head, S.C.-resident Kenneth Allison surrendered peacefully. Police took Allison to Mission Hospital for evaluation, and have filed commitment papers.
Here’s a photo taken by Ashevillean CJ Mason .
Now online in the Xpress Files: the sexual harassment suit against the city and the Asheville Police Department, the APD’s defense, a letter from the EPA targeting a man with a contaminated well, the Outlaws biker indictment, and more.
In this indictment, APD Officer Cherie Byrd alleges that her supervisor, Sgt. Eric Lauffer, sexually harassed her, and that the department, along with some city officials, failed to investigate her allegations and discriminated against female employees. ByrdHarassSuit.pdf
The Asheville Police Department is searching for a suspect in Thursday’s robbery of the First Citizens’ Bank on Merrimon Avenue.
In response to a series of alleged assaults on LGBT individuals, a march is planned this evening from Montford into downtown. Here’s what’s behind the protest.
UNCA political science Professor Dwight Mullen spoke tonight at MAHEC, providing the annual “State of Black Asheville” address that kicks off the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism project. Read more of what Mullen had to say, compiled from Xpress contributing reporter Michael Muller’s live coverage via Twitter.
Alleging that city officials ignored and retaliated against her complaints of repeated sexual discrimination, Asheville Police Department Officer Cherie Byrd is suing the city and her supervisor in federal court. The city is staying silent on the lawsuit, for now.
The Asheville Police Department issued a release this morning announcing the first charges in the alleged fraud by several employees of the city of Asheville Human Resources Department. These include the director and assistant director of the department, who the city has no announced “are no longer employed.”
A city spokesperson confirms that Asheville City Council members and the mayor were eligible for a flexible spending program that’s now the target of a fraud investigation, but refuses to reveal which elected officials actually participated. The Asheville Police Department has also issued a statement, and says the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office and SBI are assisting in the ongoing probe.