A law enforcement officer already facing criminal charges following the April beating of a suspect is accused of a similar offense in 2016.
North Carolina State Trooper Michael Blake and several other officers stopped Kyron Hinton last month in Raleigh after receiving calls about a man causing a public disturbance by screaming and implying he had a gun.
Hinton spent four days in a hospital receiving treatment for broken bones and bite wounds from a police canine.
Hinton’s initial charges were disorderly conduct, resisting a public officer, and assault on a law enforcement animal.
The Wake County District Attorney’s Office dismissed those charges May 7, and a week later, a grand jury indicted Blake, fellow trooper Tabithia Davis, and Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Cameron Broadwell on felony assault charges.
A Wake County judge will decide Friday whether or not to release for broadcast the video of the violent arrest, recorded by officer body cameras and patrol car dash cameras.
Wake County public defender Mike Howell said dash cameras failed to record the beating of Raphael Maurice Rogers in August 2016. Blake was the arresting officer in that case as well.
Howell said Blake beat Rogers out of view of the patrol car’s camera, but the audio continued to record.
Rogers was a suspect in a drug investigation in Wilmington, where he lives. Howell said narcotics agents used a GPS device to track Rogers for about a month, and noticed he was traveling from New York to Raleigh.
“They called the troopers to do a traffic stop. They were still tracking him based on his cell phone,” Howell said.
As Rogers got onto U.S. Highway 1 near Cary, Blake pulled him over.
“Blake stopped him fairly quickly. The troopers said he was speeding, but if he was, it wasn’t too bad because they got him immediately after the entrance ramp,” Howell said.
“Trooper Blake claimed that he had the odor of alcohol about him and might have been drinking, but he never administered a field sobriety test. Medical records had no evidence of any alcohol in his system,” Howell added.
Those medical records exist because Rogers was hospitalized for nearly a week following his arrest. Howell said Rogers gave Blake consent to search his vehicle, but refused to get out of the vehicle to be patted down and searched.
“They proceeded to beat him up. (Another officer) basically held Rogers’ legs and Blake told other officers to beat him,” is how Howell said Rogers described the incident.
“Part of it was on video. It was Blake’s dashcam that had one camera on Rogers’ car and another camera was on Rogers when he was in the front seat. When Rogers got out, there was no video,” he said.
“The struggle took place off camera but you could hear it. We played the audio tape in court.”
Howell said he asked the North Carolina State Highway Patrol to provide a copy of the surveillance camera from the trooper’s vehicle that parked behind Blake’s car, but he was informed that camera was not on so there wasn’t a recording.
Investigators seized heroin from Rogers’ “crotch area,” but a judge ruled that the seizure was illegal because the GPS device used to track the suspect was improperly obtained and executed.
Howell said the authorization of the tracking “not a legitimate order” and that the GPS was “deemed to be unreasonable.”
The judge dismissed all charges against Rogers, including resisting a public officer as well as drug trafficking.
Hinton is eager for the release of the video in his case.
“When the video is viewed, no one could not convict what happened because it’s even worse than you’ve seen. You guys are here because of pictures and word of mouth, but when you see the actual video footage, it’s worse than a horror movie,” Hinton said.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol did not reply to questions about the 2016 incident involving Blake.
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