A week before controversial Greensboro police officer James Hinson died last week, I got a text from an activist friend that foreshadowed the moment.
It’s been so long that the cop they once called “Hercules” dominated the news cycle, it took a moment to register.
But in 2006, Hinson, then a detective, was all over the news: His chief, since disgraced David Wray, had turned his secret Special Investigations Division unit on Hinson and other Black officers. Hinson got special attention: a tracker on his car, surveillance from other officers in the GPD, a 92-part series in the old Rhinoceros Times that besmirched his name repeatedly over almost three years.
This was before the Blue Lives Matter, movement, understand. And some of those who wave that flag today are the very same people who were calling for these Black officers’ heads.
There are so few working journalists left who remember the names: Elton Turnbull, the drug dealer who bought a home from Hinson before he was arrested and convicted; Julius Fulmore, the cop built like a bull who claimed to have made the first crack bust in North Carolina; Scott “Scooter” Sanders, who along with Tom Fox was charged by the SBI with illegally accessing Fulmore’s laptop; Randall Brady, the one reporters called “Deputy Dog.” Nicole Pettiford. Charles Cherry. Ernest Cuthbertson.
And there was the Black Book, a line-up of sorts containing images of Black officers that Wray and his secret police were persecuting. The Black Book was why City Manager Mitch Johnson locked Chief Wray out of his office and coerced his resignation. It launched a spate of lawsuits, bringing in the EEOC. And it ended the careers of many Black officers one way or another: They got shuffled off or dismissed or just left in frustration.
But they never took out Hinson, who sat out his suspension, settled his lawsuit against the city and eventually rose to deputy chief. He lasted in the GPD until 2019, amid allegations of sexual impropriety by an employee at a group home Hinson owned.
In the end he outlasted them all, except current Greensboro Police Chief Brian James and maybe a couple others.
These events of recent history are often the first to go in the collective consciousness. But I’m more than happy to stir them back up.
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