WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In what can probably best be described as a bizarre news conference, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous told reporters today the department has asked the SBI to investigate a use of force incident WPD discovered during a review. He said the investigation did not stem from a citizen complaint.
“We immediately initiated our own internal investigation,” Evangelous read from a prepared statement. “I conferred with the District Attorney, and we agreed to ask the SBI to conduct a fair and impartial investigation. I have encouraged our officers to cooperate fully with this investigation.”
Evangelous would not say what officer was involved in the incident, citing personnel laws, but did say the officer was on paid leave. He also would say only that the incident happened during an arrest some time around mid-May.
Following a request by WWAY during the news conference for a list of officers on paid leave, Rawley released information that the officer placed on leave May 14 after the discovery of this incident under review is Cpl. James Coley Johnson, who has been with the department since 1996 and not had any disciplinary actions.
Evangelous said he held the news conference after several media inquiries about an incident. Last month WWAY made inquiries about whether Cpl. Johnson was under investigation and on leave. Citing personnel laws, Rawley responded via e-mail on May 21 that she could only confirm he was on paid leave.
Reading from his statement, Evangelous said he was making the public announcement of the investigation in an attempt to avoid rumor and speculation regarding the officer and investigation, but the chief then refused repeated requests from reporters to provide more context. At times he just stood closed mouthed and shrugged his shoulders.