ONLY ON 3: Citizens accuse demoted Wrightsville Beach cop of misconduct

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Submitted: Wed, 02/22/2012 - 10:54pm
Updated: Thu, 02/23/2012 - 5:19pm

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A day after details were released in the investigation of three Wrightsville Beach Police officers, citizens are coming forward with their own allegations of police misconduct.

From a traffic stop that ended in a Tasing, to claims of a botched investigation of an apparent sexual assault, residents say one officer should not be allowed on the streets.

“All three officers had strong performance records… up to this particular time,” Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Bob Simpson said Tuesday when announcing the demotion of two officers and the resignation of another after an internal investigation.

Simpson’s comments had some people scratching their heads. Among them, Arlo McLawhorn. He is one of four men seen in dash cam video that shows a Wrightsville Beach cop Tasing McLawhorn’s friend. He says the officer firing the Taser is Shaun Appler, who the town demoted this week.

“He’s basically getting Tased, and you can see he’s Tasing him the whole time; just holding him telling him to come, you can see him motioning,” McLawhorn said about the video.

McLawhorn says the incident happened in June 2009. He and his buddies had hailed a cab when they were pulled over. McLawhorn says Ofc. Robert Miller, who was also demoted this week, was in the process of giving the cab a citation for an illegal pick-up when his buddies got out to try and let one of their friends go to restroom. McLawhorn says that’s when things went downhill.. He claims the officers in the video acted unprofessionally.

“Immediatly the officer comes up with his cuffs drawn and arrest my buddy,” McLawhorn said “He never tells us why he’s arrested.”

About five minutes later the video shows McLawhorn’s friend being Tased.

But McLawhorn is not the only person that has had a run in with one of the demoted officers. A man who we’ll call “Rick” says his son was caught up in a he-said-she-said story in which he was accused of rape.

Rick says his son was beat unconscious by friends of the alleged victim, but when it was time for police to investigate what happened, Rick says Ofc. Appler made no attempted to be fair and investigate both sides.

“This young man did not need to be carrying a weapon and enforcing the laws, ’cause he doesn’t know how to enforce the laws equally,” Rick said. “He enforces the laws as he sees it. It’s his court. What he said to me, and I quote, ‘Your son deserves what he got.’ He was almost beat to death, and my son had not even had his day in court yet. How would you feel if a police officer said that to you?”

We reached out to Simpson about his comments regarding Miller’s and Appler’s performance record. He said he made the comment based on what was in personnel records, including looking at reviews or any reprimands from five years back. As for the incidents in our story, he declined to comment.

We also tried calling Appler at work, but we could not reach him for comment.


  • Grand Ole Party says:

    In fact it is pretty much universal and is best for officer safety.

  • Guest1234 says:

    Someone on here made a comment that police officers just have a job to do. Really? Yes, I agree they are outnumbered in our town for sure. It is only going to get worse. The problem is there is nobody else out there to see what they are doing. I have watched a cop run through clear run drive every night around 8 or 9 pm with his lights blaring and horns going off, only to turn them off when he reaches Hooker Road. This is every night. I think he does it to not have to drive the speed limit and speed through the neighborhood. As for the Detectives in this town they are the lowest of the low. I had one tell my husband and I if our child didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear, F Him then. Wow, out here to protect us and then can’t seem to find one when you need one or they look the other way when they want to. I hate Wilmington now. It is the worst town to raise a child in. As for the ones who want to say what did your child do. It was over a he said she said mess. He was not found guilty of anything. But the mess the detective put us all through was enough for me not to trust any of them. They think they are above the law. I don’t feel for any of them they chose that profession. All, I can say is stay safe Wilmington residents they are not on our side. As far as WB goes let them have that beach it is crap anyhow. They will go under without the tourist or us Wilmington Natives!!! Post this WWAY. It is the truth.

  • kblue2221984 says:

    I’m all for the firing of a crooked Police Officer, but everyone and their sister knows not to get out of a vehicle that has been pulled over. From the little bit of footage shown I could not make a judgement for either side. Sounds like a whole bunch of hear say. I doubt this footage is what got them demoted. I’m certain it was something much worse……..Say’s who? Say’s Kblue!!

  • Guest hal stevens says:

    When I complained to the Sargent there I realized if I pursed the issue I would be putting my self in a position that I would surly regret later. hey this is what the people of Wrightsville beach want. They do not want any one on the each but residents.

  • corey says:

    This video is very disturbing……if they are doing this on video then what might they be doing off video????

  • ExpertGuest says:

    You need to update your new rank on your Expert Village/youtube bio! We all learned so much in your “what to do when your pulled over” series. “Where to put your hands” is a classic. Maybe with all your experience you can produce a new one – “how to avoid cop rage”. Keep up the good work, P.O. I!

  • WilmMan says:

    I’m not going to say if these happened or not since I wasn’t there…but you notice that the only ones saying something happened are thoses who were already in trouble with the police

  • diplod says:

    Where I grew up it was standard to get out of the car so the officer would know you weren’t armed. This “stay in the car” is not universal and not best for officer safety.

  • corey says:

    the expert witness in this case was an officer that basically trained ever cop in Wilmington. In a nutshell after seeing this ENTIRE(please keep in mind that these guys were in this cab for 15-20 minutes w/out being addressed) video, he said that everything these officers did that night was against protocol and was not how they were trained to do their job.

  • Guest444 says:

    just checking
    if you go out with friends and have a couple of drinks
    then do the responsible thing and take a cab home
    and thru no fault of yours the cab is pulled and detained
    while waiting, one of your friends needs to excuse himself and is cuffed for stepping out of the taxi and following that you and your other friends are taken out of the taxi and thrown on the ground, tased, and arrested you choose for people to discredit your experience because you are “already in trouble with the police”?
    i hope that you are not a judge
    just judgmental
    how is the view from up there?

  • Not in Trouble says:

    This is only a few seconds of over a 20 minute video of what happened that night. These guys were not in trouble with the police… they were only trying to do what is right and get a cab ride home after having a couple of drinks. The guy you see in the video sat in the cab for 20 minutes and finally stepped out of the cab only to be immediately tasered, thrown to the ground and then kicked.

  • I Think4Myself says:

    Thank you so much for being level headed. i cant wait for the day karma comes back for the judgemental ones. but then it shows just how brainwashed they are. they don’t even know if the reason the person is in so called trouble with the law is legit but here they are judge and jury. i love karma its a itch that will be scratched. and it usually teaches the person(s) a lesson in the very things they judge so harshly

  • corey says:

    please keep in mind that the whole reason why this video is coming out now is to show that the stmt that the town mgr made about the record of these cops is 100% false. this video is just one example of how their conduct was brought forward to the town mgr 2.5 yrs ago and nothing was done about it. ever since this incident it has always been known to me that these cops were scumbags and the fact that they are under investigation for some other reason is not surprising at all. what happened that night in the taxi was 100% unprovoked and unprofessional…..about a week after that happened I heard that 1 of the 4 individuals that got arrested that night was issued a DUI….i guess he was scared that if he took a taxi he would get tazzzzzed and arrested. the bottom line here is that when the bars get let out the cops have a job…..its crowd control, to uphold the law and to make sure people are safe……if you pull over a cab for violating a town ordinance and you realize people are in the cab…at least let them know…hey its going to be 15-20 minutes…sit tight and you will be on your way….or you could allow them to get another cab…dont ignore them and expect that they know what to do in that situation….its not a very difficult job down there at wrightsville beach…just be smart…if you can…..

  • Guest2020 says:

    My brother-in-law has been in law enforcement for nearly twenty years. He says that if you get pulled over, you stay in the car, roll your window down, and keep your hands where the officer can see them. If you are the driver, put your hands on the steering wheel. Do not start reaching for your license and registration until the officer asks for them.

    I’ve been pulled before and in addition to the recommendations I was give, I also explain to the officer what I am reaching into the glove compartment for. I also explain why I am reaching into my pocket (that is where I carry my license.)

    This is done to keep the officer at ease so that he knows that I am not a threat and so there is no mistaking my intentions.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    What doesn’t suprise me is your never ending stupidity. You complain about people who love cops for no reason, yet you hate them for no reason. Cops are just normal people with a job to do. You don’t seem to get that old man. I’m sure that bagging groceries at the local BI-Lo for the rest of your life was not what you had in mind as a child, get over it already. We can’t all grow up to be cops. Life goes on. Maybe in another life.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    Does this surprise anyone? Thugs with badges..PTSD????

  • guesty says:

    You buddy McLawhorn states: “He never tells us why he is arrested.” My statement is simply this; It isn’t any of McLawhorn’s business why his friend is being arrested.

  • guesty says:

    It still isn’t any of his business why his fried is being arrested. It is his business why he is being arrested if indeed he is arrested. It doesn’t say in the story here that he was arrested, only that his friend was arrested. When you jump in demanding to know why your buddy is arrested, chances are you will get arrested as well and charged with hinder/delay/obstruct because you are interfering with the officers job. Sit back, shut up and listen when dealing with police. You may be right in the end but you will lose in the moment.

  • GuestyURaSheeple says:

    And I guess they (the ones arrested) were right in the end…charges dropped and a big ol’ I’m Sorry from the town.

  • guesty says:

    That is such a cute user name you came up with. Did an adult help you or did you do it all by yourself? Even with the charges being dropped, it will now show on each of their records a charge of hinder/delay.

    If you say I’m a sheeple because I have enough sense not to argue with the police, then a sheeple I am.

  • Wilmingtongrad says:

    The story also did NOT say that ANYONE “jumped in DEMANDING to know why his buddy was arrested”. Mr. McLawhorn only stated (in a cut/edited video) that the officer never told them why he was being arrested. It appears that you don’t mind defending your opinion(s)by stressing that certain facts were not there for you to consider (even after someone clearly provides you with those facts by posting the arrest information from the newspaper) while at the same time basing your opinion(s) on facts that were not there for you to consider. I have respect and appreciation for law enforcement and have always “shut up and listened” the few times I have had to deal with them, but, I ABSOLUTELY cannot say that if I saw someone I care about being hurt without having done anything to deserve it that I would not, at the least, be asking “why?” or begging the person doing harm, police officer or not, to stop. A taser is very painful and officers are not given tasers to use in the manner in which they were used here. I do have the benefit of having seen the entire video, yet I would still feel the same way after seeing just this clip. What happened was wrong and those gentlemen in that cab are some of the most respectful and kind individuals I know.

  • guesty says:

    From the story: “Immediatly the officer comes up with his cuffs drawn and arrest my buddy,” McLawhorn said “He never tells us why he’s arrested.”

    It isn’t McLawhorn’s business as to why his buddy is being arrested. They should have sat down and shut up. On the side of the road isn’t the time or place to argue with an officer. Do as instructed and you get to go home. Interfere, you may get to go to jail. They got to go to jail.

  • AMHERMES says:

    There is little worse than a bad cop…but some of the guys in blue aren’t half bad. Sometimes a decent person uses poor judgement. What vexes me is that neither the cops involved nor the Manager has the chutzpah to publicly go on record admitting they were wrong and/or stupid in their lack of professional conduct. When government lacks accountability, it isn’t worth having.

  • guesty says:

    It is McLawhorn’s business why he, himself was arrested if indeed he was. It isn’t McLawhorn’s business why his friend was arrested. It doesn’t say in the story that McLawhorn was arrested, only that his friend was arrested. Therefore, it isn’t McLawhorn’s business.

  • Wilmingtongrad says:

    Thank you for further showing that you create facts that don’t exist to bolster your argument. AGAIN, nowhere in there does it state that there was any “jumping in” or “demanding” anything. You are simply using that statement, which you so kindly wasted your time copying/pasting or retyping, to imply that that is what happened because that set of facts works best for you and you have every right to do so. The problem with that, you see, is the next individual such as yourself to read your version of events will stretch it even further, and so on and so forth, until the story is nowhere near the truth. Thank God for dashboard video cameras. Honestly, none of that really even matters. Mr. McLawhorn’s obvious issue was with the inappropriate use of that taser, not that he himself was arrested and went to jail. That was obviously my biggest issue as well but judging by your response you didn’t quite catch that. Officers don’t get demoted without good reason. As they shouldn’t.

  • Guest88 says:

    Who’s on first

  • New Hanover Resident says:

    Just to clear to clear this up McLawhorn and the three other men that were sitting in the taxi were all arrested! And if I was sitting in a taxi and one of my friends was being handcuffed for no apparent reason and another was being tased and thrown to the ground I too would want to know why they were being arrested. So yes, it was McLawhorns business!!!!!

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    I bet I make more money on my retirement than ever can fathom. I have more respect for my self than to be a thug with a badge. You have no concept why I despise the so get over it. I suppose you think what these scum bags did was right???

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    Bi-Lo pays that well huh? I don’t think what they did was right at all. However I tend not to jump on every cop story I find. I don’t care why you despise them, you’re are still an idiot. And if we are comparing paychecks, I can assure you I make more than you ever have or ever will.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    all you can do is resort to calling someone an idiot that disagrees with you…I feel sorry for you Petunia.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    You may feel sorry for me all you wish, bottom line…You’re still an idiot. You hate an entire group of people based on their profession, that makes you an idiot, not because you don’t agree with me. Of course I do not expect you to figure this out on your own. Senility kicking in????

  • GuestAgain says:

    • There were four people arrested and charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing police after they exited their vehicle during a traffic stop and refused to get back in the vehicle and remain there until the stop was complete. The arrestees were Gregory Allen Leed Jr., Arlo Elias McLawhorn, Joseph Thomas Larmonie and Jonathan Edward Kent.

  • guesty says:

    It doesn’t say in the story that McLawhorn was arrested, it only states his friend was arrested.

  • Guest_99x says:

    In a nutshell, here’s what is wrong with government in these parts. City or Town Managers have too much power. They should be advisors, not decision makers. This applies to the county as well.

    Had there been a good manager in Brunswick county, he or she could have advised Comm. Warren on how to conduct a meeting!

  • GuestAgain says:

    it’s all coming home to roost. There are more stories like this out there. Glad this guy has the guts to come forward!

  • BlueLineGuest says:

    “Rick” is correct about Appler holding his own court when he is on patrol. Many cases have been thrown out of court that Appler has brought to the District Attorney and presiding judge throughout his career. In fact, he was removed from his position as a detective and placed back on patrol prior to this incident going public. Miller has been known to be quite the hot head among locals, and has been reprimanded publicly by the department in the past.

  • Guest28451 says:

    sounds like he thinks he can act like Danny Regan character on TV who is a detective or maybe he got his idea on how to conduct himself from Law and Order SVU/CI or maybe just maybe he was tutored by some of the Leland PD officers who inexplicably still have jobs despite committing obstruction of justice (moving vehicles prior to arrival of SHP among other things) cause he sounds like he and Blasingame would get along well.

  • Guest12324 says:

    Someone also needs to let Miller know he is not allowed to go into a private club. He does not have ABC authority. Can only go if asked in or answering a call for service. Checking out the babes at Red Dogs. What a loser!!!!

  • Gues hal stevens says:

    It’s about time!

  • Lauren says:

    Yes years overdue. They have tasers now however when I was in college Wrightsville Beach cops would just come right in to college parties with their billy clubs in hand swinging and hitting. Shouting that the party has too many noise violation calls and then arresting everyone who resisted being hit.

  • guesty says:

    From the story: “McLawhorn said “He never tells us why he’s arrested.””

    Guess what Mr. McLawhorn, it isn’t the officers job to tell you why he arrested an adult. It also isn’t any of your business because it isn’t you that is being arrested.

  • New Hanover Resident says:

    It is your business why you, yourself, is being arrested! That is what Mr. McLawhorn was speaking of. He was not interested in why the taxi cab driver was being pulled over! All four of the boys were arrested!!! And for what? That is a good question!!

  • alex says:

    Mr. Mclawhorn was arrested. The conduct and excessive use of force by these officers does warrant reprimand. Opting to take a cab instead of driving impaired does not justify being dragged out of the cab, tasered and arrested, even if the cab picked them up in the wrong spot. It was the cab driver being pulled over, not the passengers, it just seems unfair and excessive!!!

  • Really??? says:

    Now every single person who has been given a citation, been charged with a crime, is going to come forward and claim unfair treatment and misconduct??? How about some better news to report???

  • GuestRumblefish says:

    Thank you for reporting this, WWAY. This news is as important as your work in reporting on Leland and its police matters. The unfairness and misconduct evident here is the decision by a town manager to override the common sense decision of a police chief to get rid of three “liabilities” in his department. Great reporting! Thank You.

  • Guest3 says:

    Way to go!! keep digging and maybe we will see the truth revealed. Purhaps TM should have looked a little longer at those records or perhaps more than 5 yrs back.

  • TazerHappy says:

    And guess who trained Appler in his spectacular use of the tazer. None other than Sgt.(former) Miller, the department’s tazer instructor. Wonder if the come-hither-taunting while the tazee is sprawled on the ground convulsing tactic displayed in the vid was part of the course training?

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