“Things I can’t talk about”: Deputy in flag case not demoted, suspended or fired, records show

***EDITOR’S NOTE: The remarks by Sheriff Duncan in this post came after this week’s press time, and thus will not appear in the article on the flag case, “Duncan Refuses to Release Flag Investigation Results,” in the Aug. 15 issue of Mountain Xpress.***

Records released by the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office this afternoon show that Deputy Brian Scarborough, who came under fire for his handling of the controversial flag desecration arrests of a West Asheville couple, has not been demoted, suspended, transferred or fired. (See an image of the document at right.)

The records, which show Scarborough’s basic employment status, show no changes except a 4 percent raise given on July 7 — three weeks before the July 25 arrests. The charges stemming from the incident were dropped on Aug. 3.

Sheriff Van Duncan, invoking state public-records law, has refused to release the findings of the internal investigation or the specifics of any disciplinary action taken. The public records only show such action if it involves a change in the deputy’s status or position.

Duncan’s interpretation of state open-records law has been contradicted by Hugh Stevens, counsel for the North Carolina Press Association, who has said Duncan can release the investigation results.

Yesterday, the couple arrested in the case, Deborah and Mark Kuhn, expressed their disappointment with the Sheriff’s Office’s refusal to release the investigation results. They have said that if Scarborough receives only “a slap on the hand,” then “the door is open” to possible legal action.

However, Duncan did tell Xpress today that it was clear that Scarborough and his supervisor, Sgt. Caton McBride, had acted wrongly in the case.

“We knew that even before the internal investigation, that’s why the charges were dropped,” he said. “Moving forward on a statute like that, especially when it’s a complaint from a National Guard friend, was not a good move. He should have gone further up the chain and gotten more information. Also, we give nonemergency calls [in Asheville] that don’t take place in front of an officer to the Asheville Police Deparment.”

McBride had approved Scarborough issuing the Kuhns a citation for flag desecration under a rarely enforced 1917 statute.

As for questions about the accuracy of Scarborough’s report, Duncan said that “virtually every part of it matched up with what our investigators found out from witnesses.”

Duncan was then asked about Scarborough’s assertion in his report that Mark Kuhn had slammed the door on his hand, breaking a pane of glass and giving Scarborough cause to enter the house.

The Kuhns, as well as witnesses and neighbors, have said that the door was closed and Scarborough punched out the pane of glass before entering the house.

“That’s one of the things I can’t talk about,” Duncan said.

— David Forbes, staff writer

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33 thoughts on ““Things I can’t talk about”: Deputy in flag case not demoted, suspended or fired, records show

  1. Can’t talk about, Sheriff?

    Hello? Do you like your new job? Get off the stick and come clean.

    You are making a really big mistake.

  2. dankster

    “That’s one of the things I can’t talk about,” Duncan said. – Well Good to know the Good old Boy system of protecting there own is till in place . But yet ironically Duncan did tell Xpress today that it was clear that Scarborough and his supervisor, Sgt. Caton McBride, had acted wrongly in the case – But still no action taken – How Pathetic. – And the renegade officer is left to roam the streets freely with a badge and a gun.Who’s going to be the next victim to this renegade cop.

  3. lokel

    What is clear here is that this administration, just like the last (Medford, for those following at home), has lost the respect of many in this community.

    The people should demand more from Sheriff Van Duncan; perhaps a criminal investigation should be launched looking into the activities of this Sheriff.

    Contact the District Attorneys office:

    Ron Moore
    Buncombe County Courthouse
    PO Box 7158
    Asheville, NC 27120-0083
    (828) 232-2500

  4. Dionysis

    So much for the new sheriff restoring confidence and credibility to the office. He had the chance to do the right thing, and instead chose to ignore wrong-doing and give the thugs a pass.

    Ashevillein is right…this is a colossal mistake. Too bad, as a higher standard was expected from Duncan. He’s let the community down big time.

  5. plan b

    What are you people talking about? This played out just like it should. A rookie cop made a dumb mistake and in the end rule of the law not man prevailed. The sheriff admitted the mistake, dropped the charges, returned the flag and upheld the existing constitutional rights of these folks to fly their flag as they want. Where is the reasonable middle ground? You want this kid tarred and feathered for what, a wrongful arrest? Go find a real police abuse like a shooting/beating. Go to New Orleans, LA or Watts and complain. Duncan didn’t let him off the hook, he just acted reasonable and didn’t ruin the career of a newbie, a recently state side military vet. Give him a second change he might be a great cop after this. The Khuns can still take legal action if they aren’t satisfied. Maybe Scarborough will even replace their window?

  6. DonM

    Dankster,
    “…And the renegade officer is left to roam the streets freely with a badge and a gun.Who’s going to be the next victim to this renegade cop.”

    Pretty melodramatic, I think. Lay off the dank for one, no, two weeks to clear your mind.

    Lokel & dionysis,
    The vast majority of folks actually support our LE departments and are greatful for their service. Perhaps not the mafority of MountainX readers, eh?

    plan b,
    Correct analysis, IMHO. Thank you for some clarity with this.

    Folks,
    Even the leftie blog machine couldn’t take this national. It’s way overblown. And now, let it go.

    When you keep picking at a scab it doesn’t heal. Is that what you really want?

  7. Dionysis

    plan b and DonM are certainly entitled to their opinions. While it’s probably correct that many are going a little overboard in their negative reactions, and there probably is merit to the fact that this was a ‘newbie’ deputy, etc., the essential problem with all of it seems to be this: a deputy responded to the personal dislike by a former colleague (who is not in law enforcement, but likes guns, beer and ‘loves his government’, according to his MySpace post), and decided to utilize the resources of the government to act on that impetus. As Duncan admits, two of his employees were in the wrong. No, they shouldn’t be strung up in public, but some remedial action should have been taken; and while the specifics of this action should be kept confidential, Sheriff Duncan would have been smart to at least publicly acknowlege that ‘corrective action has been taken’ instead of clamming up without a legal reason to do so. Morever, the fact that both the deputy and his ringmaster served in the military assumes they both took oaths ‘to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution…’ Perhaps they had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they mouthed the oath.

    Evidently, for the average person, the old adage ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ holds true, but if you wear a law-enforcement badge, it doesn’t count. In this case, that includes both the deputy and the sheriff (as attorney Hugh Stevens noted).

    This is just one opinion, no less nor more valid than yours.

  8. mountaingirl

    How disappointing! It is a shame that the Law Enforcement community has decided that they are above the law. Fascism is so IN right now!!

    I would also like to thank DonM and plan B for bending over and maintaining the status quo while our civil liberties are taken away from us.

    Wave that flag and dont try to think too much, Fox news will tell you everything you need to know anyway!!

  9. I don’t want to see the rookie deputy “tarred and feathered” at all, I just want to hear from the Sheriff what he thinks happened, what punishment was meted out, and his assurance this will not happen again.
    I don’t get that from what he said.

    And a rookie should be MORE careful with silly stuff like this.

    If he is falsifying reports and performing home invasions now, what will he do when he feels more comfortable with his power?

  10. Matt Mittan

    Van Duncan is scheduled to be on Take A Stand! Wednesday August 22nd at 3pm. He’s scheduled to be on for the whole hour and will be taking calls. (Take A Stand is on News Radio 570am WWNC from 3-6pm, Mon-Fri; The show website is http://www.mattcave.us)

  11. DonM

    mountaingirl,
    You’re going to have a tough life and not much will happen that you will like. With maturity you will become less idealistic and nore rational. You’re very welcome to you opinion and that is what it is. I wish you well and hope you learn from this.

  12. mountaingirl

    DonM,
    Please dont misinterpret my monicker, it stems from an inside joke. For all you know I am your elder…not to mention, wisdom comes from experience–not age.
    It seems to me that you are saying that as you get older, you become more close-minded and less compassionate…how sad and untrue!
    There seems to be very little rationality in your decision to overlook the trammeling of one of our basic constitutional rights.
    Im sure the Kuhns never imagined they would face such a situation either and I applaud them for handling it in the manner they did. I certainly hope that you are never in a similar situation, but I bet you dont like to rock the boat much. It is hard to stand up for yourself, it is very easy to opt for ignorance and let others tell you what is right or wrong.
    I may have a harder life because I choose to stand up against social injustice, but its better than sticking my head in the sand while others around me suffer.
    Hopefully we have all learned something from this incident; Ive learned never to open my door to the APD…what have you learned?

  13. dankster

    DonM – I am thinking very clearly do not try to put me down “not gonna happen” – Officers of the Law should know the Law & as well be held to a higher standard – I hear a lot of criminals Say “I’m sorry I didn’t mean it – I’m sorry” Yeah that’s what we all would say basically – Documentation of incident is needed in case there are further problems with officer. It’s only proper procedure . I have heard of people losing job’s they have had for a lot less reasons.. I for one do not care if Officer is tarred and feathered. DonM you sound like a naive American living a sheltered life..

  14. DonM

    mountaingirl,
    If you will read, I never mentioned any assumption of age–rather maturity. Age and maturity do not walk in lock-step. What I said stands. I’ve been on the wrong side of the law many times. Fortunately, not felonious. You’ve learned not to open your door to APD. Good for you. I hope you never need them. But, somehow, I have the feeling that one day you’ll meet them of your own making. So what.

    And don’t assume so much. It doesn’t become you.

  15. DonM

    dankster,
    You should still lay off the dank, dude. And you are utterly wrong in your assumption. A sheltered life? I wish! Happy trails.

  16. mtndow

    Hey, Matt.
    Realy good to hear you. Just waisting time doing the 60’s again courtesy PBS/UNCTV Call if you want (768-0856) it’s free,it’s me.

  17. mountaingirl

    DonM
    I find it interesting that you advise against assumptions, but then you go on to say you have “the feeling” that I will have an encounter with the APD of my own making. I believe that statement would fall under assumption (or trivial, baseless accusation).
    I have never had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of the law but that doesnt affect my ability to decipher right from wrong.
    It is wrong to allow law enforcement officers to live outside the laws thay have sworn to enforce!
    You should spend more time on your position and less time trying to insult the reasoning abilities of others based on perceived maturity level or drug use.
    In the timeless words of Dankster
    “You are wrong-enuff said!”

  18. DonM

    Dank,
    Well, it must be so coming from such High authority. Certainly “enuff” heard. Happy trails!

  19. plan b

    mountaingirl
    It’s is unfortunate that your perception of your righteous self seems to differ from the one you project to others. You say your informed and observant but you now wouldn’t open your door to the APD, why? They acted responsibly in this situation with a polite visit to a house displaying a sign of distress, unlike the single Sheriff’s deputy. Your sort of generalized judgmental attitude is very close-minded. The Khons constitutional rights probably were violated by one deputy, not all of law enforcement. What a stagnant view to not see that the sheriff protected their right after the arrest by investigating, dropping the charges, returning their flag, publicly stating they were in the right to fly it and saying that this incident brought to light a failure to follow policy, which is to let APD handle routine calls in the city. Your comment about me was quite sensational as well. To compare my view to a raping is just the sort of sensational political rhetoric that Fox news spews out, except on the other side of the spectrum.

  20. Observer

    Someone should moderate this thread because it’s getting personal and not staying on point.

    The sheriff and his deputy have neither been honorable or nor good public servants on this point. There is real cause for concern here.

  21. mountaingirl

    Plan B:
    Im sorry, I did not mean to compare your view to rape–I was merely trying to state that you have chosen a path of least resistance.
    I see nothing polite in the way that the APD treated the Kuhns. They stood by their actions until they realized that this situation was going to blow up in their face and then they recanted without reprimanding the offending officer…this isnt the first incident of the APD over-zealously enforcing laws against perceived activitsts.
    My “generalized judgemental attitude” comes from what I consider lawlessness and apathy within the police department (and most PDs Ive had contact with). They sure care a lot about an upside-down flag but do nothing about the violent muggings and crime that occurs in the downtown area on a regular basis or the blatant drug dealing and prostitution on the west side. I think they have some seriously screwed up priorities and I fear that they will misjudge me and others the same way they did the Kuhns.
    Believe me, I am not righteous, nor am I an extremist–I am concerned for the welfare of my friends and family and the town that I love…
    I apologize again for any comparison to rape, I do not feel that is a subject to be taken lightly or trivialized.
    Regards

  22. justSomebody

    Folks- there is indeed a difference between APD (Asheville Police Department) and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. Namely, they are two distinct and seperate government agencies with distinct and seperate governing authorities.

    Just wanted to clear that up.

    Thanks y’all.

  23. plan b

    The APD acted honorably by sending an officer before Deputy Scarborough to investigate a recognized sign of distress. The APD officer acted honorably by speaking with the Khuns and taking no action.
    Keep an eye on law enforcement, cause they are human too, but keep some worldly perspective in the “cop watch” resistance or you’ll end up an extreamist and not know it.
    Asheville is hardly a lawless town.

  24. Chuck Connors

    Sheriff Duncan needs to restore public confidence in his administration (PR problem) and to properly discipline a newbie deputy (employee problem).
    Duncan must apologize to the community for hiding ‘behind the shield’ of his office. He should immediately announce an ‘open door’ policy for the citizens of the community to facilitate the maximum amount of communication between Buncombe County law enforcement and the citizens of Buncombe County.
    Duncan must discipline the deputy in question for failing to follow procedure (not calling for back-up)and breaking the law (breaking into a citizen’s home). Taking away money, a short suspension,re-training in basic department procedures/policies and the U.S. Bill of Rights; all would be appropriate in this case. Anything less sends the wrong message to the deputy in question and law enforcement in general.

  25. Jeff Powers

    The Loud Silence
    Wouldn’t it be a happy set of circumstances if it were appropriate to investigate yourself? Next time the IRS comes to audit just tell them you’ve already conducted an investigation of yourself; that that they won’t need to waste any more of their time looking into your situation – everything’s O.K. Every time I read about a local government agency (the Sherriff’s Department) conducting an internal investigation I smile and conjure up an image of a fox guarding a hen-house. Is he serious? Does Sheriff Duncan imagine that his loud silence regarding officer Scarborough’s recent visit to the Kuhn’s’ home is a sufficient and respectful way to respond to the citizens of Buncombe County. Sometimes what we don’t say speaks louder than what we do. Sheriff Duncan’s mute, self-serving and defensive reaction to this episode speaks volumes.

  26. Debbie Kuhn

    Just the facts folks, Officer broke into home over a MISDEMEANOR. Witnesses saw officer break into home….story was told just hours after the event on TV with the witness’s account. (google asheville flag desecration 7/25 news report) Story hasn’t changed from the citizen’s side. BROKE INTO HOME OVER A MISDEMEANOR. Amerika.

  27. dave

    i hope this issue doesnt die. i would really like to hear more form the Kuhn’s and what they feel the next step is.

    i refuse to believe that Scarborough will not be sentenced for his actions.

  28. And here’s more pleasantness reigning down on peaceful protesters:

    How I Got Arrested for Holding an IMPEACH Sign

    By Jonas Phillips
    Fri, 2007-08-17

    I am writing to tell you about an abuse of power in Asheville, NC by a police sergeant. I occasionally stand on an interstate overpass near my place of work in the mornings and hold a sign that says ‘IMPEACH BUSH / CHENEY’. On Wednesday August 15, I was standing alone with my sign for about 10 minutes, when I was approached by Police Officer Russell Crisp…

    http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/25922

  29. The “Impeach Bush” highway bloggers invite you to the Patriots meeting on Tuesday at the West Asheville Library from 6:30-8:00 PM.

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