This week, the City of Greensboro released police body camera footage from an incident in June showing an assault on a black man by a white police officer. The case surrounding former officer Travis Cole and his treatment of Dejuan Yourse has prompted outrage in the community.
WFDD's Eddie Garcia spoke with Triad City Beat reporter Eric Ginsburg, who has been covering the issue. Ginsburg says the paper found that Officer Cole was promoted during the investigation, raising questions about how it was handled.
On the timeline of the investigation:
The Greensboro Police Department's internal review or investigation of this incident began relatively immediately after the June 17th incident. It wasn't until August 10th that officer Cole was placed on administrative leave with his pay based on what the department saw in the video. And officer Cole actually resigned on August 19th. So [it was] nine days later, while that investigation and a second criminal investigation that the department opened were ongoing.
What has come to light since Monday is as I reviewed officer Cole's personnel file – the elements of that are public record – I realized that officer Cole was actually promoted on August 1st. So he was advanced to the rank of “police officer three” on August 1st, which was well after this incident on June 17th. And it was in the middle of the internal investigation of that incident. So, to me, that raises questions about the department's process.
On the community's reaction to the incident:
People were concerned or worried that the city was attempting to place all of the blame for this incident on former officer Travis Cole, who has now resigned from the department, rather than looking at the actions of both officers involved and people that oversaw the investigative process. There is a lot of anger and concern that the problem goes deeper than one former officer and many, many people at [Monday's City Council] meeting were calling for greater police accountability and saying things to the effect of they were concerned that the Greensboro City Council wanted to sweep this under the rug.
I do think it's clear that Greensboro City Council Members want to model themselves as taking a more open and transparent approach than the city of Charlotte did [in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer].
At Monday's meeting, all City Council members, including Mayor Nancy Vaughan, apologized to Yourse, who was in attendance.
On Wednesday, Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland instated a 30 day hold on the promotion of any officer involved in the investigation of Travis Cole. The Guilford County District Attorney has said it will not reopen its case against officer Cole. But Police Chief Wayne Scott is preparing a full report for the Greensboro City Council on how the internal investigation was executed.
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