Personnel Concerns As Terminated CMPD Officers May Be Rehired

CHARLOTTE, NC. — Heartbroken friends and family of Harold Easter are concerned the CMPD Sergeant and officers involved in his death could be getting jobs at other police departments. Sgt. Nicolas Vincent, Officer Michael Benfield, Officer Michael Joseph, Officer Shon Sheffield and Officer Brentley Vinson were cited for termination following an investigation into the in-custody death of Easter. Body camera video shows they had knowledge Easter ingested and swallowed cocaine moments before he was arrested on drug and traffic charges. All of the officers and the sergeant resigned from their positions before the Civil Service Board could make a decision whether to fire them or not.

“It’s something that worries me,” says Robert Dawkins.

Robert Dawkins with Action NC says he doesn’t think the Sgt. and officers should be able to work in law enforcement. In 2016 Officer Vinson shot and killed Keith Lemont Scott. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the district attorney and did not face any internal discipline by the department.

“I worry about where in a community those officers could wind up working in.”

WCCB took Dawkins’ concerns to retired CMPD Assistant Chief of Police Viki Foster. She was with the department for 30 years.

“So I think that each case has to be looked at individually, each person and their involvement is critical to whether they should continue to be able to have a job in law-enforcement,” says Foster.

Foster says there should be a state board deciding if an officer can apply to another police department.

“So when people either resign from one agency and they want to go to another I think that there needs to be this board that goes back and looks at all the internal discipline records, they look at everything, and the case that they were involved in that caused them to resign. To be fair to the officer, but to be more importantly fair to the community.”

Chief Johnny Jennings says the department currently has lateral officers who have left other agencies to come to CMPD. He says those officers are required to sign a waiver to allow the department access to their personnel files from the agency they worked in.

“We would not hire an officer, I’m going to say this because I’m not aware of any that we have and I’d be surprised if we have any, we would not hire someone who has resigned from another agency in lieu of termination,” says Jennings.