WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The North Carolina NAACP announced Tuesday morning during a news conference it will ask the Attorney General to investigate the recent incidents of police using "excessive force in New Hanover County."
Members of the NAACP are concerned with equal protection under the law and want to ensure the community can trust its law enforcement officers to do the right thing.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, said Tuesday the NAACP believes that street justice is taking the place of court justice in the Wilmington and New Hanover County community.
"We believe in the system of law enforcement where police arrest prosecutors prosecute and jury and a judge render judgment," explained Barber who says the issue is community trust.
Barber said the NAACP wants to be assured each police shooting was justified.
"We are concerned that officers aren't expanding their role and are deciding that suddenly they can now be judge, jury and executioner," said Barber during the press conference.
The NAACP is demanding the following four things in a letter to the District Attorney's Office:
- Public release of police reports regarding these incidents.
- The setting up of an independent citizens police review board in Wilmington and New Hanover County.
- A more conservative and judicious approach to public statements by DA and law enforcement officials, waiting in saying the shootings are justified until the investigations are complete.
- Demanding an immediate meeting with DA, mayor and police chief with NAACP to set up a joint community forum within the next two weeks where they come to hear and listen and respond to the concerns about transparency and trust.
Earlier this month, WECT revealed New Hanover County is leading the state this year in SBI-investigated shootings, with five incidents in 2013.
"I have always requested that the SBI investigate any officer involved shooting," said Sheriff Ed McMahon in response to the press conference. "Chief Evangelous and I are committed to share resources and work together to provide a safer community."
The local NAACP hasn't been immune to criticism during this recent period of violence, as some recently questioned if the chapter was doing enough to promote peace in the area.
Wilmington chapter president Deborah Maxwell says the group has been working and advocating to bring peace.
NAACP and the city leaders are planning to meet next week to discuss their concerns.