RALEIGH, NC — A Wake County deputy yelled three warnings to a Raleigh man before releasing his police dog on him last month, according to video showing law enforcement officers beating the man.
Deputy Cameron Broadwell and State Highway Patrol troopers Michael Blake and Tabithia Davis have been indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and willfully failing to discharge duties. Broadwell also faces a charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury.
The charges were in connection with their April 3 encounter with 29-year-old Kyron Dwain Hinton near the intersection of North Raleigh Boulevard and Yonkers Road. Officers were responding to reports of a man with a gun yelling at passing cars.
Hinton said he suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose, multiple cuts on his head, “probably 20 bite marks” and memory loss after several officers pushed him up against a patrol car and beat him up while a Wake County Sheriff’s Office K-9 bit him on his right arm, side and head.
All three officers are on administrative duty.
A judge last week ordered the release of all related videos from the Highway Patrol, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh Police Department to the public.
Trooper Zachary Bumgardner was the first to arrive on the scene, and video from his dashboard camera shows Hinton talking and pointing his finger. There is no external audio, so it’s unclear whether he’s talking to Bumgardner.
In other videos, Hinton seems to be screaming religious references, such as “God is good” and “Yahweh help.”
Five troopers eventually encircle Hinton as vehicles continue to drive past the scene. None of them confront him, and he doesn’t appear to threaten any of them.
A cellphone video shot by a bystander also shows Hinton standing in the street yelling and waving his hands at passing vehicles. It’s unclear from the video whether he’s got a gun, but no gun was found on or near him that night.
Video from Broadwell’s dashcam shows him pulling up to the scene and quickly getting his dog, Loki, out.
“Get on the ground or you’re gonna get bit,” Broadwell yells three times before calling out, “Get him, get him, get him.”
Dashcam videos from Zachary’s vehicle and two Raleigh police cars show Broadwell hit Hinton as Loki takes him to the ground.
During the ensuing scrum with several officers, Broadwell initially yells to other officers, “Watch the dog. Watch the dog.” Later, he screams at Hinton, “Let go of my dog.”
From various angles, one officer is seen kicking Hinton, while another can be seen punching him as he refuses to give in to law enforcement.
In the audio for several dashcam videos, including Broadwell’s and Blake’s, someone repeatedly issues an order to hit Hinton in the head.
“Start hitting that head. We can’t stop him,” comes the initial order.
As the struggle to subdue and handcuff Hinton continues, the order comes a dozen more times – rapidly and filled with expletives.
“Hit that (expletive) noggin now. (Expletive) hit his noggin now with the (expletive) flashlight.”
The indictments allege Broadwell and Blake beat and kicked Hinton and that Davis hit him with her flashlight.
Broadwell noted in a court filing that, in addition to being alerted by 911 dispatchers that the man in the street might be armed, a Highway Patrol trooper who was first on the scene issued a Code 10-18 for “urgent and immediate assistance … to protect the safety of the public and the officer.”
“Upon being approached by law enforcement, Mr. Hinton refused to comply with lawful and reasonable commands. His refusal to comply with law enforcement’s lawful commands, his threatening manner, and the report that he possessed a firearm resulted in a response by law enforcement, including Deputy Broadwell, to neutralize any and all threats to the safety of the public and the responding officers,” the court filing states.
The whole encounter lasted a little more than 10 minutes from Bumgardner’s arrival until Hinton was finally on the ground restrained.
Later, Broadwell’s dashcam video and a Wake County deputy’s bodycam video capture Broadwell recounting the incident.
“He was fighting us even with the dog on him,” Broadwell tells someone shortly after putting Loki back in his patrol car.
“I gave him a command, but he wouldn’t get on the ground,” he told the other deputy. “I thought he had a gun, so I set my dog on him.”
“I got him right in the eye about three times,” he said later. “He was fighting my dog. He’s on something. He’s crazy.”
Broadwell eventually reaches over and turns off the other deputy’s bodycam and shuts down the audio to his dashcam.
Hinton has acknowledged being intoxicated and on drugs that night, saying he was in crisis.
“I didn’t do anything to law enforcement, and I was no threat,” he said last Friday. “The video will show that.”
He was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting a public officer and assault on a law enforcement animal, but Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman dismissed those charges amid a State Bureau of Investigation review that led to the recent indictments.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown met with clergy Wednesday before the videos were released to answer questions and ask for help quelling any violent reactions.
Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, said everyone left with the understanding that they would do what they could to stem any violence in their communities, but they wouldn’t discourage protests or overall discontent with law enforcement. Some of the religious leaders even said they might lead protests, she said.
After the video was released, the NAACP and religious leaders held a news conference to speak out about the case and to urge residents to remain calm.
“Raleigh is known for being a peaceful community,” said the Rev. Portia Rochelle, president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP chapter. “We are standing here today to say that we are grateful that officers were indicted, but we are watching closely. We are staying awake. No one is sleeping on this.”
Hinton wasn’t at the news conference, but his family and attorneys attended.
State NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman said the videos speak for themselves.
“They are the best evidence of why the DA brought the case to the grand jury, why the grand jury citizens indicted the three officers involved and why the court released the videos,” Spearman said.
Meanwhile, John Midgette, executive director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, which represents Broadwell and 12,000 other law enforcement officers statewide, said he doesn’t think the officers did anything wrong.
“They’re believing, in my estimation, that they are going to a very dangerous call,” Midgette said. “Man with a gun in traffic, possibly getting ready to harm a citizen, that whole approach, and what they did, I think they made the best out of a very difficult situation.”
Hinton could have avoided the confrontation simply by obeying the officers’ orders, Midgette said.
“I think the movements of the suspect are very telling in that he was completely oblivious and absolutely not paying attention to anything the officers were commanding him to do,” he said.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison also stands by Broadwell’s actions.
“We get put in positions that we have to make quick decisions – I mean, absolutely quick decisions – and there’s a lot of things that go through our mind. We are human beings, too,” Harrison said. “You always try to do the right thing, regardless of what it is, but you’ll always have people who doubt you because they have never walked in our shoes.”
The videos don’t look good for the officers, Midgette said, but they don’t tell the whole story.
“All use-of-force issues are always ugly-looking. You never want that to be the situation,” he said. “The fact that we have officers indicted for serious felony charges as a result, this almost leaves me speechless. It really does.”
The Raleigh Police Department tweeted a statement Wednesday that its officers are cooperating with the investigation.
“The Raleigh Police Department is confident that the judicial process will be thorough and will follow the facts of this case where ever they lead,” the tweet said.