BYH Zoning Commission. Take your chairs and sit in the field by Bostic Sugg in morning or afternoon and tell the...

Rally advocates for police review board

1 of 4

Cassandra Pittman talks about her son's encounter with Pitt County Sheriff's deputies.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Monday, August 20, 2018

About a dozen people who are part of an ongoing effort to establish a civilian board to review complaints about law enforcement gathered at the Pitt County Courthouse Sunday to offer examples of mistreatment by officers.

The 3 p.m. rally was organized by the Pitt County Coalition Against Racism. Several participants shared stories about encounters with members of the Greenville Police Department and the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.

“We want the residents of Pitt County and the rest North Carolina to know we are highly outraged by the atrocities committed by some members of the Greenville Police Department and the Pitt County Sheriff's Office,” said organizer Dedan Waciuri. “We believe the Greenville City Council is moving slow to rectify these issues.”

Greenville resident Dijon Sharpe said he was beaten and choked by police.

“On Nov. 29, 2017, I was beaten, tazed and choked by the Greenville Police Department for no apparent reason,” Sharpe said. “This was supposedly for a traffic stop because my tag was out on my license plate.”

Anthony Edwards said an officer racially profiled him.

“On June 8, 2018, I was arrested and charged for two counts of hit and run,” Edwards said. “The officer arrested me without any clear evidence and no witnesses. Just saw me riding by and thought it was me and arrested me. It was $5,000 to get out of jail. The police department hasn't done much to get it right with me yet.”

Cassandra Pittman, the mother of 28-year-old Willie Pollard, said Pitt County sheriff's deputies sicced a dog on her son while he was handcuffed.

Pittman said she came out of her house when she heard a commotion between Pollard and Deputy Darren Hignite. Pollard was lying on the ground in handcuffs and K-9 Banzo was biting him, she said.

“When I went out there, I heard my son ask, 'What did I do, what did I do?' And the deputy was like, ‘Well, you didn’t stop.’”

She said Pollard replied to the deputy, “Well, I'm gonna go where there's light.”

Pittman said the dog was yanking at her son’s leg.

“I was just yelling, ‘Could you please get the dog off my son?’ and (Hignite) was like, 'Go in the house, this is none of your business.’”

When Pittman asked why her son was pulled over, she said that deputies told her Pollard was being stopped for a traffic violation.

“He's not trash. He's my son. He's somebody that God gave to me,” Pittman said

Don Cavellini, co-chairman of the coalition, said Sunday’s speakers are not alone.

“There are many stories to be told,” Cavellini said. “We cannot expect every police officer and every sheriff's deputy to protect and serve. We have to have each other’s back.”

Willie Roberts, another organizer, said that she wants people to realize that the Coalition Against Racism is not anti-police.

“We are not anti-law enforcement; we are for justice,” Roberts said. “We are against racial profiling, police brutality, young black men and women being stopped for suspicious behavior just for walking down the street. Those are things we are fighting for.

“That's why we need a review board to hold people accountable for their treatment of us. We need a board to hold the Greenville police accountable for bad behavior,” Roberts said.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR