Prosecutors file bill of information charging former officer Puranda

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
Federal prosecutors have charged former Salisbury Police officer Kareem Puranda regarding a 2009 incident involving use of force.
The charge, in a bill of information, was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Greensboro. It says that on or about June 18, 2009, in Rowan County, Puranda, acting under the color of law, punched and kicked a person whose initials are R.O.W.
According to a June 19, 2009, Salisbury Post article, Puranda was arresting Robin Otto Worth on a drug offense and charged him with assaulting an officer. Puranda said Worth kicked him.
Prosecutors can file a bill of information to accuse someone of a crime directly without going through a grand jury and obtaining an indictment. It can also be a waiver of indictment by a defendant and indicate a plea deal has been reached. The bill of information concerning Puranda doesn’t say if that’s the case.
The court document also said Puranda willfully deprived R.O.W. of the right to be free from the use of “unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”
The offense, the document said, resulted in bodily injury to R.O.W., which was in violation of his civil rights.
No other court documents were filed in the case as of Friday.
According to the federal civil rights statute, an act under the “color of law” is any that is not only done within the bounds or limits of that person’s lawful authority but also committed without and beyond the bounds of lawful authority.
The statute names people who are bound by laws, statutes, ordinances or customs as law enforcement, mayors and council members, judges, security guards and nursing home proprietors.
The punishment for such a charge ranges from a fine to prison of up to one year or both. If bodily injury resulted, the offender could be imprisoned up to 10 years and fined.
It’s not the first time Puranda was accused of using excessive force.
In February 2011, the city of Salisbury and its insurance company paid $60,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Wayne Partee, who said Puranda used excessive force during a 2007 arrest.
Partee, of Salisbury, filed the suit in 2010, alleging that following a traffic stop Jan. 11, 2007, he suffered a broken collarbone when Puranda body-slammed him on the pavement.
The suit said Partee was pulled over by the officer for a seatbelt violation. The officer commanded Partee to get out and move to the back of the vehicle. Once Partee got to the back of the car, Puranda lifted the man over his head and slammed him headfirst into the pavement, according to the lawsuit.
In August 2009, a local company, Groundbreaking Video Productions, was shooting footage for a private party at the LaBamba Club on Klumac Road and captured what appeared to be Puranda punching a person later identified as John Allen Fox.
Fox and his brother, Michael Jeffrey Fox, were both charged with various offenses including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault on an officer.
On May 4, Rowan County courts dismissed the charges against the brothers after reviewing court files. (See story on 3A.)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office was considering whether it would proceed with federal prosecution of a “critical witness” for the state. The critical witness is not named.
The court document goes on to say the state’s potential witnesses are no longer employed with the Salisbury Police Department. It does not name those officers.
Puranda resigned in March 2010 amid an SBI investigation. It’s not clear if that investigation has been completed. A call to an SBI spokesperson was not returned Friday. Court records do not indicate an SBI file was submitted for review.
Contact information for Puranda could not be found.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.