09/13/09 — DA: SBI not looking at arrest by police

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DA: SBI not looking at arrest by police

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 13, 2009 2:00 AM

Wayne County District Attorney Branny Vickory said there will be no SBI investigation into the March 29 arrest of Tavares Allen -- and that he passed that information along to local NAACP president Sylvia Barnes before she and other members of the advocacy group met with Goldsboro officials Thursday at City Hall.

"I spoke to Mrs. Barnes Wednesday, and she wanted to know the status of the SBI investigation," he said. "And there is no SBI investigation because there doesn't need to be one."

The NAACP called for an investigation after it allegedly received numerous complaints about the conduct of the arresting officers, Orlando Rosario and Philip French.

And while Vickory acknowledged -- in court and again Friday -- that the one statement used by Rosario was less than professional, he said there was absolutely no evidence of police brutality.

"Let me be clear. There is absolutely no evidence that either of the officers involved in this incident committed a criminal offense," he said. "They were trying to affect an arrest and were meeting resistance from this young man."

The DA's name came up several times Thursday during the meeting between NAACP and city leadership.

The Rev. William Barber said "even the district attorney said in the court ... he acknowledged that he believed that the police might have acted improperly. ... Even our own DA had some questions, not about the Police Department as an entirety but about this specific incident and what could have resulted."

Vickory said Barber and others members of the NAACP are taking his words out of context.

"I think they have taken that one remark ... and tried to make that into something else. Because the facts are pretty clear," he said. "You have got to remember, the young man being placed under arrest was manhandling the young officer's gun. ... There is a battle going on over that officer's gun. This is an extremely dangerous situation. Somebody could have been killed very easily."

So the officers' response -- despite the one statement made by Rosario he found questionable -- was just, he said.

"People in the general public might not understand why an arrest would look that violent," he said of the fact Allen was wrestled to the ground. "But it wouldn't have been that violent if the person being arrested had cooperated. ... And you know, I have heard a lot about the way the police handled themselves in this case and the lack of respect they showed this young man, but I haven't heard anyone speak toward doing something about this young man and his lack of respect for the police."