High Point Enterprise Newspaper Archives Oct 20 1974, Page 53

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High Point Enterprise (Newspaper) - October 20, 1974, High Point, North Carolina Point police chief Laurie Pritchett s High Rock Lake Home a to a it it a a 6y Art by Robert Marks Enterprise ass Odif editor the line of witnesses and the growing contradictions in their testimony appeared to be too much even for City Council for eight Days. Council has heard testimony about alleged wrongdoing and mismanagement in the High Point police dept. First. There was testimony about police chief Laurie Pritchett gambling at the Rac n Cue and sop Lansdowne liquor houses in High Point and a vontism in the police department last week came conflicting stories about police brutality construction of Pritchett s Lakeside Home in Davidson county a sex party at the police Academy a vontism in promotions within the department and excessive transfers in duty assignments for officers who were not on the a right tide there was even disagreement in the second line of command among the officers who stand next to Pritchett in the direction of the police department statements of support and Praise for the police department from school officials and some Community business leaders added to the confusion. Or Dean b Pruette. Superintendent of the schools blames the furniture Market for the problems with the police department because of the compromises he said High Point has made to accommodate the Market. Or Pruette s statement was promptly challenged by Robert Gruenberg manager of the Southern furniture Market Center who was one of those speaking on behalf of the police department it was hardly surprising that members of City Council in the second week of Public hearings into the investigation of the police department showed signs of test iness and Short tempers toward each other investigator Luke Wright and witnesses. A it seems to me that common sense would Tell you to get both sides a councilwoman Rachel Gray snapped at Wright during the hearings last thursday night a i think eve used As much common sense since eve been Here As you have a Wright snapped Back the audience that has come to fill the courtroom in the City county building where the hearings Are being conducted applauded the applause coming More frequently from the audience was another indication of nerves being rubbed raw by the hearings freeze placed on promotions promotions and transfers within the police department were Frozen last week by City manager Harold Cheek the City manager offered no reason for the freeze the first administrative action he has taken in response to the police department since the Public hearings began in another but apparently unrelated action the promotion of Del. Bill Rich to sergeant was cancelled by the civil service commission Ken Wood. Executive Secretary for the commission. Said Rich had been promoted from an eligibility list that was out of Date. The promotion of it. Larry Pendry to he Captain was allowed to stand Wood said Pendry was on an eligible list that was still valid. Both Rich and Pendry were promoted by Pritchett two weeks ago at the same time Pritchett went on sick leave and entered Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem for treatment of hypertension. Lakeside Home in testimony contradictory testimony was heard by Council from four police officers about the construction of a Home for Pritchett at High Hock Lake in Davidson county. Three officers testified building materials had been hauled in a City dump truck from the police Academy to the site of Pritchett s Lake Home the fourth officer retired Captain j l. Eagan said no materials from the Academy were used in the construction of the House. He said materials were taken from a Thissell Street House be my demolished by Urban renewal and carried to the High Hock Lake site Del b t. While had testified on get to however that he officer Mickey Morgan and Eagan had Ridden together in the truck carrying the materials from the police Academy to the Lake White said he had helped Load the truck with Cement blocks and different types of lumber from materials at the Academy. The trip to the Lake was made under the direction of Eagan he said Morgan who is no longer with the police department corroborated whiles testimony last wednesday Morgan said he and White had been assigned to work with Eagan on the expansion of Hie police Academy. A the materials left Over were carried to the chiefs place on the Uke Quot Morgan said. A i drove the truck b t White sat in the Middle and Eagan was on the the vehicle used to make the trip was c Ity truck no 3. White said he added that he remembered taking the materials to the Lake especially because a i got stuck in a ditch with the truck a on Friday. E. W Howell an officer with the police department for 20 years said materials from the police Academy were used in the construction of Pritchetts Lake House Howell said he had wired the House he identified Wall panelling in the Lake House As the same As he had seen a stacked under a Tarpaulin at the Academy. Wiring for the House also came from the Academy. Howell indicated he testified that Eagan had told him the wiring for the Lake Cabin Quot was at the when he ran out of materials. Howell said. Eagan told him Quot i think we be got some More at the in his testimony Fagan said he had worked on Pritchett s Lake House during his off duty hours but he denied that any materials from the police Academy were used in that construction Pritchett bought materials for the House from suppliers in Lexington and Albemarle Fagan said. The panelling in the House was similar to the panelling in the Academy because it came from the same supplier Fagan said. A it came from the plywood store or the plywood Mart on English Road a he declared. Fagan refused to answer questions about any agreement he might have had with Pritchett Over the construction of the House a i Don i want to answer any questions about an agreement a he told Wright. A that is personal. I will Tell you anything about the police department that i know. But nothing that is personal a Fagan did admit to having a a Swap work Quot arrangement with Pritchett a the wanted me to do something i would do it. I wanted him to do something he would do with the police department 26 years before his retirement Fagan described Pritchett As a More or less a disciplinarian. He believes in discipline. One thing he stressed when he came Here he believes in training for a police officer. He believes in his commitments. Quot he listens to suggestions but he will not be driven. But you need someone to step hard on the police department have discipline fire somebody a Pagan said. A there is no discipline Fagan was critical of the Public hearings. A i think this hearing is the worst thing Ever to happen to the City of High Point. It will take to years for this department to come Back Quot he said police brutality claims denied contradictory testimony was heard by Council Over two incidents of alleged brutality by High Point police officers. Rufus Fargis of Greensboro said he was arrested on sept. 19 for violation of the prohibition Law and then beaten while in the jail in the City county building. He said his left hand was broken in two places. When Fargis appeared before Council his left hand and forearm were in a cast. Testimony by Fargis was disputed by officers Timothy w. Jacobs and c. T Madden who identified themselves As the two officers involved in the incident. Madden said he was one of three officers who arrested Fargis for violation of the prohibition Taw he said he was later called Back to the jail when Fargis refused to go into a cell. A the acted like an octopus a he stuck his Lect out so that we could t get him through the door a Madden said. Jacobs testified he was working in communications when he was told there was a fight in the jail. A i went Down there Fargis and officer Curt Madden were fighting on the floor i hit or. Fargis on the Arm and then on the head a Jacobs said. A emr. Fargis was subdued and then went into the cell As far As i am concerned no undue Force was used in this instance a Jacobs said. The other incident of alleged brutality was related to Council by four Young people from Trinity. Cynthia Elkins a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro said she was grabbed by the hair. Her arms were twisted behind her Back and her face was beaten against the floor by officer w d. Hill. Fred Woods who said he was charged with Public drunkenness while at Westchester mall shopping Center said he was also manhandled by Hill. Woods Karen Johnson and Mark Keams Al testified that they saw and heard miss Elkins being beaten by Hilt. At the police station. Miss Elkins testified she saw Woods being taken Down the Hall by an officer. �?�1 was hysterical and i started to fall she said. A i hollered out son of a Bitch but not to anyone. W. D Hill grabbed me As i was failing he said he was going to. Arrest me now. I started to struggle. He grabbed my hair and bashed my face to the ground. I was being Hurt. He put Handcuffs on me and put me in a Woods said he looked Back and saw a Cynthia starting to fall. Sgt Hilt grabbed her. He brought her into the office heating her i told him to Stop and he slapped me twice. He put me in Woods denied that he was drunk or had been drinking at the malt. He said he had been arrested in Asheboro once on a charge of driving under the influence of narcotic drugs. Hill denied thursday of mistreating either miss Elkins or Woods he described Woods As behaving in a a real cooperative manner at the jail. He was taking Woods to the magistrate s office Hill said when miss Elkins Quot jumped on my Back i decided to handcuff her. She was becoming violent i placed her on the magistrate s desk she was kicking she got Back up. And we went Down on the floor i wound up sitting on top of her. I handcuffed her and lifted her up by both arms Hill said Woods was becoming a a Little too loud and had to be returned to the chair he was sitting in twice. Sgt r w Davis officer j. D. Walton and magistrate Sterling m Mattocks corroborated Hill s account of the incident. It was at this Point that mrs. Gray exchanged words with Wright. A emr. Wright i can t understand Why you brought these four Young people up Here without checking with these men before you wasted All our time hearing this a she said. A mrs. Gray you be been on my Back for a Long Wright replied Quot i Don t think i have to sit Here and be Cross examined by you. I did not doubt her credibility when she and her Mother came to see me. I saw the Marks on her and i Felt unnecessary Force had been used in other testimony thursday. Del sgt. H g. Smith and h g Cooley disputed testimony by Diane Hargett that she had been intimidated and threatened and that the desk of capt. George Leverett had been entered without his permission. Miss Hargett formerly a Secretary to Leverett had named Smith and Cooley in her testimony during the first week of the hearings. A i never threatened that girl i never so much As spoke harshly to her a Smith said. Cooley also denied he had broken into the desk he said the desk was opened with a key when Pritchett said he needed a file from one of the drawers meanwhile testimony from another witness of what appeared to be an Effort by police to intimidate him was corroborated by the principal officer involved. Horace Stepp who is with the City traffic engineering department said Pritchett had two officers to question other City employees about rumours Stepp had allegedly repeated about the chief. Stepp said that his attorney had written a letter to Pritchett about the incident and sent a copy to Cheek but nothing was Ever done about it. Sgt. C. R. Coff one of Pritchett s staff officers testified thursday that he had been ordered by Pritchett to interview people about remarks supposedly made by Stepp about the chiefs House at High Rock Lake. A the asked me to interview the people who were supposed to have been present when the remarks were made a. Goff said. He talked with three associates of Stepp but they did not remember hearing the remarks coff stated he reported Back to Pritchett but got no particular reaction a that would be significant in any Way a Goff testified he described the incident As just a an assignment Given to me by the chief a liquor houses in testimony More testimony Carne during the week about the inability to control liquor houses in High Point and of growing Lack of cooperation and coordination among Abc Law enforcement agencies and the High Point police department Quot i can t say that anybody is being paid off Here but i have heard rumours a said Ron Weston an agent for the Jamestown alcoholic beverage control Board for 12 years a i know something is wrong or there would be More done about cooperation with the High Point department has been an Quot off and on situation since Pritchett became police chief. Weston said. About Pritchett he said. A i Don t Trust Weston estimated that there Are Between 25 and 30 Quot open liquor houses operating in High Point these Are the ones he said which operate virtually As open bars. With Juke boxes and liquor by the drink he had gone with two High Point detectives to a liquor House on Vail Street Only to find the place closed. Weston said. Quot they told us that they had been told by detectives to close a he testified. In previous testimony before Council. An undercover agent with the state Abc Board told of seeing two High Point detectives leaving a liquor House where the agent was supposed to make a a a buy As part of his investigation against the place the agent implied that the detectives might have been warning the liquor House operator of the undercover Effort. He and it. Shaw Cooke were the two High Point officers apparently seen by the Abc agent. Sgt Lindsay Royal told Council. They were making the rounds of the liquor houses that night not to warn the operators. Royal said but to threaten them with Legal action. A a harassment is the Best tool available to detectives to keep liquor houses closed up Royal said Quot if i can t close them Down legally a he said a i can bully my Way in there and in a better off than i would have been Leav ing the House open i think the objective should be to close them Down. Have them padlocked arrest the operators if you can. But if you can t do that do what you Royal said that neither he nor Cooke had knowledge of the planned tour of the state Abc agent. He estimated that there Are no More than 2 to 15 liquor houses in High Point. He placed the number of bootleggers in the City at around too. Orgy testimony denial heard Council heard More testimony during the week about a sex party at the police Academy in 1968 capt. Pendry who was then a lieutenant testified that he was the ranking officer at the party. He said he had been invited by another officer to have a Steak and drink a Little whisky in a party at the Academy. During the evening. Pendry said. Two officers came in with a woman he said he ordered them to leave and they did but returned this went on for four times Pendry said. At one Point he saw the woman on a table and several officers gathered around her but he did not witness any sex orgy. Pendry said. In testimony from previous witnesses. Council was told that the woman danced on the table and that several of the officers had sexual relations with her. Pendry said he finally ordered All the officers to leave the Academy and he closed the place. He never reported the incident to Pritchett Pendry said. As for problems in the department. Pendry said he has t been Quot satisfied a since he joined the Force in 1957. A a that a when the split was going on a he said. A a it a just different players now a As for Pritchett. Pendry said. A i like the Man. He has been Good to transfers hit by policemen a less favourable View of the department and its present circumstances came from three other officers. Sgt. Ken w Hall sgt Paul Wood and patrolman Steven Jacobs All testified to frustrations and constant transfers in their work As police officers an officer for 17 years. Hail said he had been transferred 14 times since june. 1973. And la times since May of this year. A i have been told by other officers that i was transferred so Many times because i did t play Ball with the right team a Hall said Wood a Veteran of 16 years with the department and a sergeant for the past to years said he had been assigned to the fifth platoon the patrol division the traffic division and the police Academy in recent years. He has also been questioned repeatedly by other officers about what he said when seen with particular people in the Community Wood said. A i know what people must have Felt in nazi Germany a he told Council Jac Obs told Council he was sent to a bomb demolition school in Alabama at a Cost to the City of $2,000, but had been assigned to the patrol division since he said the department did not have the proper equipment on hand for him to instruct other officers in demolition techniques. He himself has been assigned and reassigned to various positions 14 times in the past three years. Jacobs said. Murder Case in testimony asst. District attorney Rick Greeson told Council he Felt it was his duty a to the people of North Carolinas to assist Wright in the investigation of the police department. Greeson recalled the theft Ling scandal in 1972 and the investigation into the Gallimore murder As examples of something wrong in the police department. The use of Sonny Sumrall As a witness in the police department investigation was defended by Greeson. He said Sumrall had provided reliable information in the past about criminal activities in High Point. Since his interview with Wright Sumrall has left High Point and his whereabouts apparently Are unknown. Before Council began its Public hearings capt. Of leak claimed that Sumrall was being used in an Effort to Frame him. Leverett tells about conflict a major witness before Council last week was capt. George Leverett a police officer in High Point Leverett has been Captain of the patrol division and of the detective division in the police department under Pritchett. He see conflicting on Idi Early hearings conclusion expected by Forrest Cates Enterprise City editor hearings into alleged misdeeds within the High Point police dept. Go into the 10th Day monday with projects of being concluded during the week the City Council convened As a Board of inquiry has heard More than 50 hours of testimony in the sessions so tar. Luke Wright who was hired by the Council to conduct an investigation it the police department apparently has completed the presentation it his findings in the last two sessions he called witnesses who mainly offered testimony favourable tor police Chiel Laurie Pritchett and the department and witnesses who rebutted previous testimony. Still to be heard trom. However is John Haworth attorney for Pritchett. The Chiel has been on sick leave for the past two weeks suffering trom hypertension and has not been Able to attend the hearings. He was in the Hospital part it the time but now is convalescing at Home. Haworth was advised by Wright on wednesday to be ready to Start rebuttal testimony. Haworth has asked members of the Council tor permission to submit a rebuttal statement trom Pritchett in writing. He apparently plans to put rebuttal witnesses on the stand but has not indicated How Long this will take. The rebuttal testimony has brought the Council to the Point of having to decide who has been lying on the stand and who has been telling the truth the Council has not indicated what it will do with the findings it the investigation or even if it will do anything. Whatever the Council s instructions concerning the police department they will have to be routed through the City manager. The City charter gives the Council direct supervision Over the City manager and his stat and the City clerk. Council members however have no authority Over department Heads or other City employees. The manager has direct authority Over department Heads but does not have direct supervision Over employees within a department Only the department head has that authority. With few exceptions such As the manager City employees Are protected by civil service with the right to Appeal certain actions by their superiors to the civil service commission. White the manager does not have direct control Over City employees the department head is obligated to do his bidding thus a department head would be obligated to comply with any order the manager might give in regard to any employee or lace possible discharge. The same applies to the relationship Between the Council and the City manager the manager would have to follow orders Given by the Council or face consequences which could include getting tired. The hearings will resume monday on the same afternoon evening schedule they will Start at 2 30 p. In. And continue until 9 p i with an hour break at six tor dinner. The meeting place is the same the second floor courtroom at the City county building Spectator attendance Al allot the hearings has been High. But began to taper ult slightly wednesday. Police probe conflicting stories Mark second week of probe hearings hearings in review % r

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