WHITEVILLE, North Carolina (AP) — A North Carolina judge has suspended a sheriff who was recorded calling black employees by derogatory names and saying they should be fired.
Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene’s suspension on Tuesday comes after District Attorney Jon David sought his removal, alleging Greene engaged in racial profiling of employees personally and through those under his command. reported WECT-TV. Superior Court Judge Douglas B. Sasser suspended Greene until a hearing could be held on the motion to dismiss.
David, the district attorney for Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties, said last week that he had asked the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate allegations of obstruction of justice at the sheriff’s office, but declined to give further details. The SBI confirmed the request, but declined to comment further on what it called an ongoing investigation.
“The defendant committed willful misconduct and maladministration in his office,” David wrote in the petition. “The acts committed by the defendant…constitute corruption in the performance of his duties.”
2019’s call to the captain at the time. Jason Soles came on shortly after Greene narrowly beat ex-sheriff Lewis Hatcher, who is black. Soles was temporarily acting as sheriff at the time due to a court-brokered agreement that prevented Greene from taking office while election officials considered the contest, which was ultimately decided by less than 40 votes. .
During the call, Greene, who is white, said he believed someone in the sheriff’s office was leaking information to Hatcher, the station reported.
“I’ve had it up to here. I’m sick of these (expletive) Blacks,” Greene said. “I’m going to clean the house and get it over with.” And we’ll start from there.
Greene was also recorded as saying, “Every black guy I know, you gotta fire him to begin with, he’s a snake.”
Several black officers in leadership positions were later demoted or fired. WECT-TV reported that two black officers were part of the previous sheriff’s group of high-ranking officers, known as the command staff, but that a captain was fired and a lieutenant was demoted after Greene’s swearing in. Another black sergeant said he was fired soon after. Greene was elected. The station reported that several black deputies appear to remain in the sheriff’s office in positions below the command staff level.
Greene released a statement last week claiming that the recording of a 2019 phone call obtained by the TV station had been edited or edited. But he did not deny in the statement that he was on the call or made the statements.
The recording was given to the station by a former sheriff captain who is now running against Greene for being sheriff. Located about 120 miles southeast of Raleigh, Columbus County has a population of about 50,000 and is approximately 63% white and 30% black.
The hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for October 24.
The Associated Press