WPD officer suspended after internal investigation - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

WPD officer suspended after internal investigation

A screen grab from the night of the incident. A screen grab from the night of the incident.
Khale Gay's injuries from the incident. (Source: Khale Gay via Facebook) Khale Gay's injuries from the incident. (Source: Khale Gay via Facebook)

An internal investigation by the Wilmington Police Department has found that an officer used excessive force during an arrest in May in downtown Wilmington.

Earlier this week, WECT obtained a copy of a letter sent from an internal affairs investigator to the person who made the original complaint.

It specifically states that the complaint against Officer A.J. Phillips was sustained, which according to the WPD policy manual means the employee acted improperly.

A second officer involved in the arrest was also investigated. That same investigation found there was not enough evidence to confirm or refute the allegations.

The investigations stem from an incident in May when Khale Gay was leaving a club on Front Street and walked into a fray of pepper spray and police officers. Gay claimed before he knew what happened he was under arrest and an officer was hitting him in the legs with a flashlight.

Officer Phillips was suspended for two days according the WPD. 

At first, the WPD denied our public records request, saying that any disciplinary action taken against an officer would be kept in his personnel file and therefore would not be a public record. 

We pointed them to North Carolina General Statue 160a-168 which specifically says the dates of suspensions and other change of classifications are public record. 

At that point the WPD said the department does not keep track of suspensions. Cpl. Leslie Irving explained in an email:

"I was informed that our system is not set up to track suspensions because suspension does not change salary. It only tracks changes in position and salary classification for example: Administrative Leave with or without pay or Family Medical Leave. We don't keep a public record that shows suspensions." 

On dozens of occasions in the past, the WPD has provided WECT and other media outlets with information about suspensions and officers who have been placed on administrative leave, including just two weeks ago when Chief Ralph Evangelous announced another officer had been placed on administrative leave in a separate excessive force complaint: http://bit.ly/1lxNbsB

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