WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On the heels of the firing of three now-former Wilmington Police officers, the District Attorney’s Office is investigating a combined 89 pending cases assigned to the three men.
District Attorney Ben David says his office is working to dismiss as many of those pending cases as possible if they exhibit racial bias.
The three white, former officers, identified as Kevin Piner, Jesse Moore II and James Gilmore, were fired for using racial slurs, making racially charged or derogatory comments towards African Americans and even Police Chief Donny Williams.
When David heard the conduct and language used by the three former officers, he says it made him physically ill and added they would never step foot in his courthouse as a witness again.
The DA’s Office says Piner has 24 pending cases, Moore has 32 and Gilmore has 33. According to the office’s policies, if racial bias is found in any of these pending cases, they will be dismissed, and the former officers will never be allowed to testify in the district again.
“Our job is, of course, to do justice and not convict at all costs, and that means if we have a real issue about someone’s credibility or what motivates them, it’s better to let a guilty person go free, than to convict the first person on the words of officers who, frankly, have lost the right to wear the badge,” David said.
David calls the language in the car camera video outright racism, and say his goal is to dismiss any case that may be a close call.
“If there is a case that comes to our attention that has already been resolved through a conviction, we have the power to reopen that conviction through what’s called an MAR, which stands for “Motion for Appropriate Relief”,” David said. “And I’ll be the first to do that if I believe justice was not done in a case, because again, our job is not to convict at all costs. It’s to do justice.”
When the former officers were interviewed about the video, some of them explained their behavior, saying they were under a lot of stress with the nation’s current climate and were venting.
David responded to that saying it’s absolutely not an excuse.
“COVID’s caused a lot of stress,” he said. “These protests have caused a lot of stress. There’s absolutely no excuse for this behavior. You’re going to have to come up with something better than that. You have to think it before you say it, and for you to even think it means that you’ve tarnished the badge and you shouldn’t be working anymore in the court systems.”
If any of these pending cases involve other witnesses or victims, David says they’ll investigate further to see if the case still stands without the former officer’s involvement.
The DA’s Office says the majority of these cases are traffic violations or other misdemeanors. David says they’re in the process of dismissing those cases with racial bias.