COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The trial of the Whiteville Police Officer accused of beating a man who was in police custody is underway in Columbus County.
Sgt. Aaron Herring is charged with simple assault, willful failure to discharge duties, and obstruction of justice.
To rule out any potential conflicts, the Columbus County District Attorney’s Office is not prosecuting the case. Instead, it is being prosecuted by the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office, with the trial being held in Whiteville.
During opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Lillian Salcines-Bright said Sgt. Herring and another officer served a felony warrant on Juwarn Britt. They arrested Britt and put in the back of an unmarked patrol car.
Salcines-Bright said Britt was in the back seat, handcuffed and wearing a seatbelt.
There was a heated verbal exchange that escalated into a “yo mama” argument between Britt and the officers.
At some point during the drive, Salcines-Bright said, Herring removed his badge and threw it at the dashboard hard enough that it cracked the windshield. In addition to taking the badge off and causing damage, Herring reached out and struck Britt in the head area, multiple times.
Once Britt was in the booking area, he asked multiple times for help and indicated to staff and the other officer that he needed help and that he was hurt.
Shortly after that, Britt posted bond and was released.
During opening, Herring’s attorney said Britt made offensive remarks about Sgt. Herring’s mother, saying he was going to “**** on her face.”
The defense then said Britt got out of the car and started screaming about being beaten. During booking, he kept complaining about the assault.
The defense said everything Britt has done, including filing a federal lawsuit and holding news conferences, has affected Herring and his family.
After opening arguments, Britt took the stand.
Britt testified that while he was handcuffed in the patrol car, Herring allegedly said, “I’m tired of you n****** selling drugs.”
Britt testified that the argument escalated and they started talking about each other’s mothers. Britt admitted to making a remark about putting bodily fluid on Herring’s mother. Britt said the fighting started and he was hit on the right side of his face.
WWAY’s Basil John is in court and will have more tonight on WWAY News.