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DA to scrutinize tasing of black man by white cop: Policies followed, no wrongdoing, FOP chief says, but fears DA facing election may stiff police to win votes
Saturday, 04 September 2021 16:11
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WOODFIN — A black man is facing more than a half-dozen charges following an altercation with white Woodfin police officers, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported on Aug. 26.

The Aug. 24 incident occurred outside Grainger Industrial Supply off Riverside Drive. The Woodfin Police Department said the call came in as a possible overdose after an unconscious man was observed sitting partly inside a vehicle.

The WPD added that, when officers arrived at the scene,  Jonathan Barker, 45, of Swain County refused officers’ orders to get out of the car and a physical altercation ensued. Barker reportedly was tased twice. 

In the aftermath, the incident is being investigated by the WPD internally — and by the Buncombe County district attorney’s office externally.

Barker is facing three assault charges as well as simple assault, resisting arrest, open container and possession of drug parapher and an out-of-county probation violation. He is being held on a $66,500 bond.

Regarding the district attorney’s involvement in the case, Rondell Lance, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, told the Daily Planet in an Aug. 28 interview, “There’s nothing here. For anyone to take this... This is an open and shut case. They’d tried to resolve it peacefully, but he (Barker) wouldn’t let them...

“When you’ve got a DA who is anti-police and far-left like this one is, they shouldn’t be doing this,” referring to the action of turning the case over for his review, said Lance, who, as the FOP chief, represents about 250 local area law enforcement officers. He is retired, but the Buncombe County native worked in law enforcement for 26-1/2 years.

The Daily Planet tried to call Buncombe District Attorney Todd Williams’ office twice early on Aug. 30 to seek his viewpoint, but was disconnected each time.

Meanwhile, Lance told the Daily Planet in the Aug. 28 interview that “a lot officers there (in Buncombe) are leaving… going to Haywood (County) and other agencies outside of Buncombe County — all because they don’t trust the district attorney and ADAs” (assisant district attorneys). 

If cases like the one involving the Woodfin police result in disciplinary action by the D.A., “the police aren’t going to be proactive. So yeah, crime’s going to be way down. because the officers are just sitting back, protecting themselves. Plus, people aren’t reporting crimes, because they realize nobody will respond, or it will be dismissed.”

When pressed for more elaboration on why Lance is so concerned that Williams, the D.A., might not review the case fairly, he replied succinctly, “It’s time for elections” and, given what Lance considers Williams’ far left leanings, he is worried that the D.A. might crack down on the police just to win votes in the next election from his sizable far-left, Defund the APD voter constituency.

Lance added, “He (Williams) previously dismissed a case where a girl hit an officer (with her vehicle”— and she was drunk above the legal limit, and he (Williams) dismissed the case after he met with her father who had money.” Afterward, the D.A. “didn’t tell the officer (who was injured), or Woodfin police of his decision.

Pausing, Lance said, “Who knows? He (Williams) plays these silly games. It (this case) doesn’t warrant going to the DA’s office, but the Woodfin police chief (Ron Davis) is doing what the DA’s office asked them to do — send anything questionable to the DA to see it... 

“Depending on what the DA does, it could be used to gauge how votes would go. If he goes from that mindset, we need to be beware of what he does.

“There is no reason for it to be turned over to Todd Williams. If the police chief of Woodfin couldn’t look at the video” and make a decision on whether it was handled properly by his officers, then that, in itself, is a problem, Lance said.

Rhetorically, he asked of Davis, the Woodfin police chief, “Why? You don’t trust your own judgment? It’s ridiculous!”

Then, as he returned to critiquing Williams, Lance said, “In reality, it’s election season. He’s up for election in 2022. One, he’ll take this and do whatever he needs to do to make it an election issue. Or two, he’ll look at it and say there’s nothing there. Or three, who knows what he’s going to do....”

Lance asserted, “Anyone who’s worked in law enforcement for more than five years” could view the video and see that the police handled the situation well.

Lance also complained that the Asheville Citizen Times seems to want to insert a “racial component” into the case, when, he said, “There’s not one. “

The FOP chief then fired a verbal shot at the Citizen Times, which, he said, “is doing their best to push the far left, anti-police, anti-law-and-order” narrative. That’s what they do. And (ACT reporter) Joel Burgess is the worst to take something” and make it follow a leftist narrative. “They’re trying to go along and satisfy the Antifa crowd — and others.”

At that point, Lance noted that when Woodfin police checked on the criminal history of Barker before approaching him, it is highly likely they learned that one of “the charges (against Barker) was assault on a detention officer in the jail.”


What’s more, Lance asserted, “All this is is the Citizen Times trying to push a narrative near election time (that) ‘police are bad.’”


Continuing, the FOP chief said, “He (Barker) attacked the officers, he threatened them…. One of the officers had to go to Urgent Care…”


Lance said he was interviewed after the incident by Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) “for 30 minutes… They keep talking about ‘de-escalation.’ But they (the Woodfin police officers) went above and beyond of every aspect” in the case. “For the Citizen Times to take this” and try to make it something else — That’s a lie ... and they (the ACT reporters) know it’s a lie.”


He reiterated that the police would have checked in advance on Barker’s record before approaching him — and seen that he had a previous scuffle with law enforcement at a jail, plus “they see alcohol and drug paraphernalia in the car.”


With an air of exasperation in his voice, Lance said, “None of this would happen if people (suspects) would just comply. You don’t take the fight on the street, there, because if you do,” the outcome will not be favorable for anyone fighting with the police.


As for Williams, the district attorney, Lance said, “He doesn’t care what you think ... what I think. He’s ‘the DA for the far left.’ He doesn’t care what anyone else says or does.”


Instead, the FOP chief said Williams’ considerations are ’What will Antifa think?’ ‘What will BLM think?’ ‘What will the far left Democratic base think?'”




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