The lead investigator involved in many legal cases surrounding Sen. R.C. Soles is in trouble tonight. The District Attorney has charged Tabor City Police Lt. Greg Sibbett with using excessive force in one investigation and unlawful arrest in another. The DA has also started to throw out some of Sibbett's other criminal cases, but some people say Sibbett has done nothing wrong, and the cases he's worked on should stand.
Last week in Tabor City court, prosecutors threw out more than a dozen cases where Sibbett was the investigating officer. The nature of the crimes ranged from felony breaking and entering to an assault that resulted in a man's death.
"We get a case together and put it in our system, and for our DA's office to dismiss it... words cannot describe how I feel," Sibbett said. "I've worked hard for the people of Tabor City."
Sibbett is on administrative leave from the Tabor City Police Department while he awaits trial on his own criminal charges. The first case against him stems from a crime he witnessed while off duty at his house.
"I look up, and here's a truck coming directly at me," Sibbett said. "Ran off the shoulder of the road. I dive from it and was going to go back inside and call 911, 'cause I didn't know what the situation was, but before I could get home I hear a crash."
Sibbett says an unlicensed 15-year-old was running over trash cans. He says he jumped in his patrol car, pulled the kid over and handcuffed him and his passenger until the Sheriff's Department could get there. Highway Patrol didn't charge the boys, because troopers didn't see the crime themselves, and because Lt. Sibbett detained them outside his jurisdiction.
It wasn't until 11 months later that the District Attorney's office decided to press charges against Sibbett for unlawful detainment.
Sibbett also faces charges for using excessive force while arresting Ricky Turbeville. Two other officers say they caught Turbeville breaking into more than a dozen storage units in Tabor City back in September. Sibbett says when he tried to put Turbeville in the back of a patrol car, he started kicking him.
"I was trying to gain control over him," Sibbett said. "It's difficult to get somebody in the car. I didn't have a tazer. I didn't have mace. All I had was my hands.":
Turbeville claims Sibbett broke his nose in the scuffle, but Sibbett says EMT's and an ER doctor said his nose was fine before taking him to jail. Still, Columbus County prosecutors say there was sufficient evidence to press charges against Sibbett for excessive force.
According to our research, law enforcement officers are allowed to detain people, even out of their jurisdiction, if they have personally witnessed a crime, which Sibbett says was the case when he detained those teenaged boys.
Sibbett has yet to be tried, let alone convicted on the charges he's facing, but prosecutors have already started throwing out cases he investigated. The DA threw out all of the felony breaking and entering cases involving Turbeville, even though there were other officers who witnessed the alleged crimes.
No word yet on what will happen to Sibbett's cases connected to Soles. District Attorney Rex Gore told WWAY today that he will review everything on a case by case basis.