Command staff at the Greensboro Police Department have determined that five officers appropriately handled a September 2016 incident in which a young, black man complained that they harassed him and his friends, and then unnecessarily escalated tension resulting in their arrests.
In a complaint filed in August, Zared Jones alleges that he approached Cpl. Korey R. Johnson and complained that he had been assaulted when a bouncer at the Boiler Room, a bar on McGee Street in downtown Greensboro, threw him out.
Todd Olson, who owns the Boiler Room, declined to comment in an email on Sunday on Jones’ characterization of the incident.
Jones’ complaint alleges that after Johnson took Jones’ ID and went to investigate, other officers with the downtown bike patrol asked Jones and his friends to leave. At one point, the complaint alleges, Sgt. Steven Kory Flowers grabbed Jones by the arm and slammed a cuff on his wrist. One of Jones’ friends tried to intervene, and other officers forcibly arrested him.
Capt. Teresa Biffle, commander of the professional standards division, said in a Nov. 8 letter obtained by Triad City Beat that the department’s internal investigation determined that the officers “did not make a bias-based arrest, search, or seizure during their account with Mr. Jones on Sept. 10, 2016.
“Likewise,” Biffle wrote, “the applicable chain of command determined the evidence available to the officers at the time of Mr. Jones’ arrest established probable cause for the arrest, and Mr. Jones’ arrest was therefore lawful.”
Jones was charged with misdemeanor second-degree trespassing and misdemeanor intoxicated and disruptive. The Guilford County District Attorney’s office dropped the charges in May.
Graham Holt, a lawyer who represents Jones, said his client will appeal the police department’s determination to the police community review board.
“There were white people standing all around watching what was going on, presumably wondering what the police were doing,” Holt said. “Zared’s friends were doing the exact same thing as these white people, but they got treated as second-class citizens that didn’t belong there and were arrested. This happened because of a culture of racism within the police department. The higher-ups, the chain of command, according to the letter we received from Capt. Biffle, think this is acceptable police conduct. To arrest Zared for nothing. Zared broke no law. It’s obvious on the video of the incident that he broke no law.”
Susan Danielsen, the public information officer, said the department is unable to comment on the incident because it is review by the police complaint review committee and could potentially turn into a lawsuit.
Jones said through Holt that he wants the police department to clarify the normal procedure for responding to a citizen report of assault.
“He wants to know why that was not addressed and why the assault he reported was never addressed,” Holt said.