Sheriff's Office investigation finds Warren's allegations "unfounded"

Commissioner Charles Warren demands investigation into some deputies and fellow commissioners.
Commissioner Charles Warren demands investigation into some deputies and fellow commissioners.

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office has released the results of an internal investigation into the actions of its deputies after a request by County Commissioner Charles Warren.

According to Sgt. April Stanley, The Office of Professional Standards has determined allegations made by Warren to be "unfounded."

On Monday night, a sheriff's deputy pulled up behind Warren, who was stopped in the middle of Midway Road in Bolivia around 9:30 pm.

Deputy Jason Fennell said he was checking up on Warren.  In dash camera video, you can hear Fennell ask Warren why he's sitting in the road.  Warren's response is unclear, but the rest of the conversation leads you to believe Warren thought he was sitting in a parking lot.

The next day, Warren asked the sheriff's office to investigate the actions of several deputies and two of his fellow county commissioners.  Warren claimed they were in cahoots to follow and harass him.

On Monday, the sheriff's office released its results, which found that no deputies or commissioners had done anything wrong.

Warren had specifically accused commissioners Bill Sue and Scott Phillips of indirect threats and harassment because of Warren's race.  Warren is the only black commissioner in Brunswick County.

The results of the investigation stated, "There is no evidence that Commissioners Sue or Phillips are in any way involved in racial intimidation of Mr. Warren or any other minority citizen."

The investigation also cleared several deputies Warren had brought claims against, related to last week's traffic stop, as well complaints from Warren that a deputy had sat too close to him and stared at him during a commissioners meeting. The full report is below.

Press Release from Brunswick County Sheriff's Office, June 12, 2011:

On 6-7-2011, County Commissioner Charles Warren made a complaint to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office of Professional Standards. Mr. Warren complained that Deputies had been subjecting him to racial intimidation and racial profiling.

Mr. Warren specifically alleged that First Sgt. Todd Coring sat too close to him during the Commissioner meeting of 6-6-2011. Warren said that during this meeting, Coring continually stared at him in an effort to intimidate him. Warren said that after he left the meeting, persons unknown, called or texted his whereabouts to Deputy Jason Fennell. Warren said that Fennell stopped him on Midway Road for no reason, failed to ask him for his driver's license and registration, and refused to provide his badge number when Warren requested it. Warren felt that this entire traffic stop was racially motivated.

Warren felt that fellow county commissioners Bill Sue and Scott Phillips were behind this deputy intimidation. Warren could provide no specific information concerning their involvement.

The Office of Professional Standards has investigated this complaint and determined these allegations to be unfounded. During the Commissioner's meeting, First Sgt. Todd Coring was seated up front near the commissioner in an effort to be visible to the public and to provide security to the commissioners if needed. Coring characterized his interaction with Mr. Warren as friendly and Coring even purchased a raffle ticket from Warren prior to the meeting.

Deputy Fennell was on routine patrol behind Warren on Midway Road as Warren drive home after the meeting. Fennell said that Warren suddenly pulled into the right travel lane and stopped as he neared the intersection of Highway 211. Fennell's car camera showed that he pulled up beside Warren in an attempt to see if he was having car trouble or a health issue. Fennell was at all times polite and courteous to Warren and told him his name when Warren asked him. Fennell was unable to provide a badge number because Brunswick County Sheriff's Deputies do not have badge numbers. Fennell reminded Warren that he was creating a traffic hazard by blocking the travel lane. He politely instructed Warren to pull into an adjacent parking lot. Fennell did not know Warren's identity or race prior to pulling up beside him.

There is no evidence that Commissioners Sue or Phillips are in any way involved in racial intimidation of Mr. Warren or any other minority citizen.

Mr. Warren has previously made unfounded allegations against Brunswick County Sheriff's Office employees. On June 4, 2010, Warren accused Corporal Preston Nowell of vandalizing his wife's vehicle as Nowell delivered the County Commissioner's packet to his residence. This allegation was also investigated and determined to be unfounded. Corporal Nowell was cleared of any wrong doing.

This investigation is closed.

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