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‘Assault’ by APD alleged in arrest of black man
Thursday, 25 May 2023 22:01

City of Asheville seeks release of body-cam footage for clarity

From Staff Reports

 Asheville City Attorney Brad Branham has filed paperwork on behalf of the city asking a judge to release police body camera video taken during a May 13 arrest of a black man by three white Asheville Police Department officers in an incident that triggered a protest and allegations by the man’s fiancé, Carrie Speigle, and activists that the APD actions constituted an “assault.”

Meanwhile, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported May 18,

“Fallout continues over the arrest of Devon (Lewis Rayshawn) Whitmire. The 27-year-old was involved in an altercation with Asheville Police Department officers as they attempted to serve a warrant and take him into custody on May 13.”

News 13 added,  “Asheville police took suspect Devon Lewis Rayshawn Whitmire down after officers said he told them he had a gun. It turned out he was not armed.

In a statement, city officials said they want the video released so the public can see exactly how the incident unfolded on May 13.

In a press release, Branham, the city attorney stated, “We believe that it is imperative for the public to have full and transparent facts surrounding this incident, and we want to facilitate that.” (The entire release appears below).

Earlier, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams reviewed the video and said no probable cause exists to charge any of the officers involved in the incident or to refer it for further investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation..

“Officers were trying to arrest Whitmire on an outstanding warrant for communicating threats,” News 13 noted.

Following his arrest, Whitmire was charged with the following:

• Two counts of assault on a government official inflicting serious injury

• Three counts of assault on a government official

• Three counts of malicious conduct of a prisoner

• One count of resist/delay/obstructHe was booked into the Buncombe County Detention Facility under an $85,000 secured bond ($8,500 to a bondsman).

On May 19, the city issued a news release titled “Asheville files petition requesting release of police bodycam video of APD arrest.

“City Attorney Brad Branham, in consultation with City Manager Debra Campbell and the Asheville Police Department, is moving immediately to seek the required Court Order to release body camera footage of the arrest of Devon Whitmire. Whitmire was involved in an incident Saturday, May 13, which led to the use of force by several APD officers during his arrest.

Further, the release stated, “The City of Asheville legal staff has reviewed the matter extensively. The relevant footage and all other evidence have been shared with the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office.
“Upon review, the district attorney has determined no probable cause exists to charge any of the officers involved in this incident or to refer it for further investigation by the SBI.”

Elsewhere, the Asheville Citizen Times reported on May 21 that “Buncombe County’s district attorney has said he will not call for a criminal investigation of white police officers who pinned a black man by his neck in a May 13 arrest captured on bystander video.

“DA  Todd Williams’ May 18 decision not to request a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation probe comes a day after activists met to protest the arrest of Devon Lewis Rashawn Whitmire and the Citizen Times published a story on the incident. The online article included a video taken by Whitemire’s fiance Carrie Speigle, who, along with one leading activist, called actions by the Asheville Police Department officers an “assault.”

Further, the ACT reported, “Officers were seeking to arrest Whitmire for communicating threats. He was charged with that, along with multiple counts of assault, including assaust on a government official inflicting serious injury. On May 18, he remained in the Buncombe County Detention Facility on an $85,000 bond.

"APD Chief David Zack told the Citizen Times he was out of town, but that APD officers referred the incident to the DA’s office on the morning of May 18.

“Later on the same day, Williams told the Citizen Times through a text that he reviewed body camera footage in consultation with two of his top assistant district attorneys.”

Williams’ text, according to the ACT, stated:

“I have determined that at this time there is no probable cause that excessive use of force by law enforcement officers occurred that would require referral of this arrest to the N.C. SBI for a criminal investigation.”

City attorney’s statement on cam footage release request

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is the full statement from Asheville City Attorney Brad Branham on his filing that asks the court to allow the city to release cam footage in the Devon Whitmire case:

"We believe that it is imperative for the public to have full and transparent facts surrounding this incident, and we want to facilitate that. In accordance with APD policy, all instances of use of force by an officer are reviewed. 

“If that review reveals any potential violations of APD policy, the matter may be referred for a professional standards investigation. 

“However, these reviews are considered confidential under North Carolina law, and are not made public in compliance with that legal restriction. 

“In the alternative, the City of Asheville will take all reasonable steps to provide the public with access to the relevant body cam footage in order to be as open and transparent as possible with respect to these events.”



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