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Police response was laudable, despite false narrative being pushed, FOP leader asserts
Thursday, 25 May 2023 21:55
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The three officers from the Asheville Police Department who handled the May 13 arrest of Devon Whitmire did so in textbook fashion and deserve accolades, rather than accusations of assault and racism in the aftermath, according to local FOP President Rondell Lance.

In a May 20 interview with the Daily Planet, Lance said

he had viewed the video (of the incident that was taken by Whitmire’s fiancé) several times, but hasn’t talked to anyone involved.

“I looked at it from the viewpoint… to determine the whole situation...”

Lance, who is a retired police officer, said that, upon viewing the Whitmire video, said, “The first (consideration) is the ‘use of force’ situation.

“Number one — was there a legitimate reason for the officers to be there? There was. They had warrants.

“Number two, the law states that law enforcement can use the amount of force necessary to overcome the amount of force used against them,” Lance said.

When one of the APD officers approached Whitmire, I heard him (Whitmire) in the video” say, “‘Will you back up while I get rid of my gun?’

“Until that point, they (the three officers) hadn’t stepped in (to use force), but then (after Whitmire’s contention that he had a gun) they did step in, with an officer saying, ‘No, no, where is the gun? So that (the possible hidden gun) heightens what’s going on.

“When they stepped in to secure him (Whitmire) so he couldn’t reach for his gun, he pushes back against them.

“That’s against every officer’s desire,” Lance said, as police always prefer, instead, “to have them comply” to avoid a confrontation.

“That changed the situation by someone who says he has a gun, using force against officers,” the FOP leader added.

“When they took him to the ground, the goal number one (then) was to find out if he had a gun on him.

“He was trying to get loose and kicking. He clearly showed that he wasn’t complying.

“At one time, he spits on the female officer and he’s kicking” a male officer in the groin.

“I noticed that they (the APD officers) never threw a punch or hit him with their fists. They never used their knees to kick him.

They were trying to do it ‘soft hands’ to make the arrest,” at first, as “one of them said (to Whitmire), ‘We’re not trying to hurt you.’

“Once they had him arrested, they never choked him. Their holds were around his chest or shoulders. There were no choke holds... Once they get him secure, he gets up and kicks an officer with his knee...”

Lance added, “At that point, a crowd gathers” and yells at and taunts the APD officers as they are seeking to subdue Whitmire.

Simply from watching the video, “In my opinion, they (the APD officers) didn’t use excessive force. They used just the amount of force needed to get his hands behind his back and get him to comply,” Lance noted.

So what did Lance think about the crowd behavior depicted in the video? the Daily Planet asked.

“We (the police) face that all the time with a crowd (in Asheville). They’re used to that. They’re used to the crowd. But that’s why they need to secure him quicker, because one (an officer) doesn’t know if someone from the crowd will attack,” too.

After subduing Whitmire, Lance asserted, “They (the officers) helped him get up and walked him to the car.

“As far as... did they stay within the law? Yes, they did. They did a great job. They did it all according to the use of force standard.”

To that end, Lance said, “The DA (Buncome County District Attorney Todd Williams) did not see any problem to refer it (the case) to the SBI.”

What’s more, Lance said, “The video that I had seen, which was taken by the fiancé (Carrie Speigle) of the suspect, from her Facebook post, and so you can pretty well see the entire event from there.”

Continuing, Lance said. “From what I’ve read, he (Whitmire) had threatened people (around the area), even his grandmother. He’d been terrorizing the community. He has a violent history. That aside, they did nothing wrong. He’s the one who fought back.”

Lance then asked, rhetorically, “Why didn’t he just comply and put his hands behind his back and then take it up in court?”

Further, the FOP president noted, “You don’t threaten the police. You don’t spit on the police. You don’t kick an officer in the groin. You don’t threaten the life of a police officer.” Lance contended that the aforementiond transgressions — and more — were committed by Whitmire, as seen in the video. 

“These officers were tremendous in the way they handled the whole situation,” Lance said. “There was no cussing, shouting or using vulgarities” by the officers in the arrest of Whitmire. “It was a good picture” of the APD in action, even under chaos....

“They were trying their best to de-escalate the situation (with Whitmire), telling him to calm down, but he wouldn’t....

“These officers did a tremendous job of maintaining their composure” in a dangerous and high-pressure circumstance.

“They (the officers) never hit him, kicked him, choked him or cussed him.

“As soon as they got him handcuffed and made sure he didn’t have a gun, they never put a chokehold on him or put their hands on his neck, or try to choke him.

“They got him (Whitmire) up as soon as they learned he had no gun on him, so nothing was similar to George Floyd.” 

(On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minn., by Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white police officer. Floyd repeatedly told a Minneapolis police officer he could not breathe as the officer knelt on his neck.) 

As far as accusations against the APD in the aftermath of Whitmire’s arrest, Lance said, “They’re just trying to push a false narrative. In law enforcement, we have to deal with bad people and we try to do it in a safe way.”

In a verbal shot at the Asheville Citizen Times, Lance asserted, “I quit talking to (reporter) Joel Burgess because he’ll take what you said and turn it around. So the Citizen Times — they’re trying to cater to that far left base. That’s why they’re subscriptions are so low. They’re trying to keep the community in an uproar” to sell newspapers.

As for the defund the police activists, he said, “That’s what they do,” referring to the verbal attack on the APD in the Whitmire case.

“They don’t want the truth. They just want to push their narrative. We’ve seen it not only locally, but we’ve seen it nationwide. Their issue is they’re trying to push a national narrative against law enforcement. 

“It has nothing to do with facts or evidence. It has to do with one narrative — to make more chaos in the community. They’re against law and order. They want it where people can do whatever they want.”

“They think everyone should be able to do whatever they want. No rules or regulations. 

“They’re hypocrites. When the tables are turned and they’re being assaulted, the first thing they want is for the police to move in. 

“They want to push the narrative that the Asheville police is a racist department. They’re not. They think the Asheville police just want to beat up people. They just like drama. It would be OK if it was legitimate, but it’s not. 

“They’ve got a narrative and if they can find a little ounce of something, then they they try to put something into it, whenever anything happens. They won’t listen to reason....

“But there’s also another group, the Asheville Coalition for Public Safety — they’re a bigger and a more reasonable group — and I think the community has seen” good results from the ACPS thusfar, Lance said in concluding the interview.




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