(Updated) 3 police officers sue Mocksville, allege corruption
RALEIGH (AP) — Three long-serving police officers in a small North Carolina town say they were fired for reporting corruption by their chief and are requesting a state investigation.
The officers, who include a former assistant chief and a lieutenant honored for bravery, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Town of Mocksville and Police Chief Robert W. Cook. Among the allegations made in the lawsuit are that Cook misused money seized through drug forfeitures for his personal benefit, fixed tickets for favored citizens, used racial epithets, and openly drank alcohol while in uniform and armed.
Reached at his home, Cook declined to comment on the allegations.
“I will diligently be fighting it,” said Cook, who was hired as chief in 2004.
The officers — Kenneth L. Hunter, Rick A. Donathan and Jerry D. Medlin — say Cook fired them Dec. 29 after they contacted the office of Gov. Beverly Perdue to request a probe of the department by the State Bureau of Investigation.
“When the officers requested an explanation, defendant Cook refused to inform them of the true basis for his action,” the lawsuit says. “The actual basis for defendant Cook’s decision to terminate plaintiffs was to retaliate against them for seeking to expose his corruption, and to remove them from their positions in which they could challenge his misconduct within the MPD.”
Hunter joined the department in 1985 and at times was the agency’s only black officer, according to the lawsuit. After receiving several promotions, Hunter achieved the rank of major in 2008 and was named assistant chief. The lawsuit alleges that at the time of his promotion, Cook told Hunter a white officer would also be named as an assistant chief because town board members objected to a black man being the only second-in-command.
Donathan joined the agency in 1998 and was promoted to lieutenant. According to the lawsuit, Donathan was twice named as the town’s officer of the year and was honored with an award for bravery after saving eight people from a burning building.
Medlin joined the department in 2006 and served as a detective, investigating such serious crimes as murders, rapes and child sex abuse, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks to have the three fired officers reinstated to their jobs and awarded damages in excess of $100,000.