A North Carolina man who suffered serious injuries during a 2016 arrest has now hired a civil rights attorney to investigate claims of law enforcement using excessive force.
One of the officers involved in the August 2016 traffic stop of Raphael Maurice Rogers in Cary is Trooper Michael Blake, who currently faces assault charges for the violent April 2018 arrest of Kyron Hinton in Raleigh.
Rogers and Hinton both spent several days hospitalized immediately after their arrests.
“It’s my understanding that (Rogers) spent approximately 10 days in the intensive care unit, and he had a pretty significant head injury, several broken ribs,and a collapsed lung,” attorney Devon Jacob said.
“On the audio recording (from the dash camera), the comments that are made by the various officers and the comments that are made by Mr. Rogers are troubling. You can hear him repeatedly saying that he can’t breathe,” he said.
“We have injuries that are extensive. We have admissions in paperwork that a significant amount of force was used, both to the head and to the chest area, and in addition a chokehold.”
Jacob began his career as a police officer in State College, Pennsylvania. Then he completed his law degree and defended law enforcement officers against lawsuits, before transitioning to the plaintiffs side where he occasionally pursues cases involving police accused of wrong-doing.
Investigators seized heroin from Rogers’ “crotch area” during his arrest, but a judge ruled that the seizure was illegal because the GPS device used to track the suspect was improperly obtained and executed. The judge dismissed all charges against Rogers, including resisting a public officer as well as drug trafficking.
Another attorney referred Rogers to Jacob following the May indictment of Trooper Blake in the Hinton case.
“Most troubling is that both the Highway Patrol and prosecutors have been aware of this incident for almost a year, and to my knowledge, did not take corrective action until after Kyron Hinton was assaulted,” Jacob said.
“The Hinton case certainly raises questions, questions that were probably there before, but definitely deserve a second look now in light of the fact that we have at least one of the same officers involved in a similar type incident.”
He said that just as Rogers and others must conduct themselves in accordance with the law, law enforcement officers most also conduct themselves in accordance with the law. Jacob said that he hopes to learn that the North Carolina State Highway Patrol conducted an investigation into the arrest of Rogers.
Highway Patrol did not answer questions submitted by CBS 17 about if any internal investigations took place involving Blake.
“The claim is personal to (Rogers) and of course the expectation would be that he would ultimately be made whole. In our court system, being made whole is a monetary result usually. These cases are also important in the context of the community at large,” Jacob said.
“In that regard, we hope that by asserting, litigating, prosecuting these types cases, that hopefully these departments will take any necessary corrective action that needs to be taken.”
Jacob has not yet filed a lawsuit in the Rogers and Blake case. The statute of limitations runs through next year.
The attorney representing Trooper Blake in the Hinton case did not respond to a request for comment.
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