Two fired Greenville police officers and one officer who was suspended have filed a lawsuit against City Council member Kandie Smith.
In a news conference Monday, North Carolina Police Benevolent Association executive director John Midgette said three members of the Greenville Police Department’s gang unit, Brock Flannery, Joshua Smith and Travis Brinkley, were targeted by Smith.
The officers allege Kandie Smith took efforts to get them fired after they pulled over assistant Nash County superintendent Leonodus Farrow Jr.
On May 13, the officers pulled over a vehicle they said was speeding.
The officers said Farrow, a passenger, yelled “Get the **** out of here!” at them.
When they asked for identification, the officers said Farrow refused.
The officers asked Farrow to get out of the vehicle, and when he did, they said they saw an open container of Corona Light that had been poured out onto the floorboards, with some beer still in the bottle.
The officers said Farrow was intoxicated, and they detained him in handcuffs.
The officer said Farrow repeatedly claimed there was in no beer in the container despite it being visible, and officers said he told them he ‘had some drinks’ before he entered the car.
Farrow was eventually arrested and charged with being intoxicated and disruptive and being in possession of an open container.
The driver was given a speeding ticket.
Following Farrow’s arrest, the officers allege Kandie Smith submitted a complaint to Greenville’s police chief on Farrow’s behalf.
The officers said Greenville police officials told them it was Farrow who reported the complaint, but they said the complaint form itself lists Kandie Smith’s name.
Greenville police launched an internal affairs investigation into the arrest.
Following the investigation, Brinkley and Flannery were fired and Joshua Smith was suspended and received additional disciplinary action.
The three officers allege the investigation was “biased, inept, unfair and incompetent, and was conducted less for the purposed of determining what occurred than to find ‘reasons to discipline” them.”
One officer, Joshua Smith, claims Greenville police Chief Mark Holtzman told him he was taking disciplinary action for political reasons.
The officers claim she was motivated by a hatred of police stemming from a 2010 arrest, and they also allege she was motivated by a desire to establish a civilian review board and to benefit her run for the District 8 House seat.
In their suit, they state Smith “wrongfully and without justification abused her authority as a city council member to pressure the GPD into taking disciplinary action against Plaintiffs, two of whom were fired as a result.”
According to a release from the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, the three officers are “but a few of the Greenville officers who have found themselves on the receiving end of complaints filed by Ms. Smith for incidents of which she had no personal knowledge.”
In the conference, NCPBA executive director John Midgette said Smith has staged encounters with officers with the goal of provoking, confronting and inciting them.
Midgette said Smith’s efforts to harm officers dates back eight years.
Kandie Smith released the following statement:
“The council only has the authority to make employment decisions concerning the City Manager, City Attorney and the City Clerk. At no time can an individual council member make any decision about the status of the employment of an employee of the City of Greenville. I Kandie Smith am not in receipt of any formal notice of complaint.”
The city released a statement saying it does not comment on pending litigation and said it will review any public records requests in a reasonable amount of time.