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Report says discrimination in assault

by Jordan Green

Latin King exonerated by Greensboro Human Relations Department

Aninvestigator with the Greensboro Human Relations Department hasconcluded that a private security officer contracted by the city strucka young, Latino manand knocked him to ground at the Depot, which serves as a hub for thecity’s public transit system. The report suggested the securityofficer’s handling of the incident was motivated by discriminationbased on the man’s national origin, which would be a violation of thecity’s public accommodation ordinance. The investigation waslaunched based on a complaint filed by 22-year-old Russell Kilfoilfollowing the incident at the Depot in downtown Greensboro on July 3 atSlip 13, where Kilfoil and two friends were waiting for the last busout for the night. Yamile Nazar Walker, a human relations administrator with the city of Greensboro,completed the investigation in late November, and released the findingsto Kilfoil on Dec. 3. According to a cover letter signed by Walker andobtained by YES! Weekly, City Manager Mitchell Johnson,Engineering and Inspections Department Director Butch Simmons andSecurity Manager Michael Speedling, who oversees private security atcity facilities, also received copies of the report. Walkerreported that a surveillance video from the Depot clearly shows“Kilfoil and the two other men walking towards what was described asSlip 13 with [Lankford Protective Services security officer ByronWayne] Meadows directly behind them. The two other men disappear fromthe camera’s view leaving Kilfoil and Meadows. The video shows Kilfoilturning his head first to face Meadows, then stops and turns his bodyto face Meadows with his arms straight down his side. Kilfoil takes astep back when Meadows lunges toward him (Kilfoil) and strikes Kilfoilwith his right fist and forearm across his (Kilfoil’s) head, face andneck. The force used to strike the blow is graphically depicted in thevideo as Kilfoil’s baseball cap being thrown from his head from theimpact and he (Kilfoil) fell back onto the floor and out of thecamera’s view. The video evidence is irrefutable in its record of theevent.” A man identifying himself as Wayne Meadows and listedon the Switchboard.com directory as Byron W. Meadows who resides inBrowns Summit said he was not the right person, had no knowledge of theevent, had no comment otherwise and hung up the phone abruptly. Thecity’s security director said the security officer under scrutiny hasretained a lawyer. The human relations report indicates thatMeadows confronted Kilfoil because a subordinate had reported to himthat the three men were smoking in the slip area. A written statementfrom Meadows indicating that it appeared Kilfoil was “planning toattack… cannot be supported by the video evidence,” the human relationsreport concluded, and deemed the security officers’ actions “improper.” The report also concluded that “there is reasonable cause tobelieve that discrimination based on Mr. Kilfoil’s national origin (inconjunction with his age and gender) was the motivating factor for howMr. Meadows’ reacted towards Mr. Kilfoil.” Greensboro’scode of ordinances states, “No person shall deny an individual the fulland equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges,advantages and accommodations of a place of public accommodationbecause of race, color, religion or national origin.” SamLankford, owner of Lankford Protective Services, disputed many of thefindings in Walker’s report, beginning with that of discrimination. “Hewasn’t discriminated against at all,” Lankford said. “It doesn’t matterwhat race or nationality is involved. He broke the rules andregulations. I realize the human relations lady made that statement,but she made the statement in error. It’s a sad thing.” Lankford calledthe report “biased” because Walker did not interview during theinvestigation. “The determination made in the report stands onits own,” Walker said in response. “I’m not going to debate it. He’sobviously going to be defensive because it’s his company that’s beenalleged to have discriminated.” Lankford had no comment on whether an assault occurred, as allegedly shown in the surveillance video reviewed by Walker. Denise Turner,assistant city manager, said after reviewing the report that “there’sclearly something that took place that was not appropriate.” Mitchell Johnson, the city manager, said in a prepared statement through Turner that “the city of Greensborodoes not condone acts of discrimination by any of its employees” andthat “the issue is pending with Lankford Protective Services forreview, and the city manager will expect our security director, MichaelSpeedling, to follow up with Lankford Protective Services.” Speedlingsaid he did not necessarily agree with Walker’s conclusion that Kilfoilhad experienced discrimination in the incident. “The reportkind of leapt to that conclusion,” he said, “but we didn’t really seewhere that was supported.” Speedling said he took disciplinary actionagainst Meadows several months ago, and removed him from fulltime dutyfor violating city policies, although the security officer has beenallowed to continue working at the Depot on a part-time basis. Turnersaid Meadows was disciplined and reprimanded for failing to create anincident report and failing to press charges after detaining Kilfoil,who was handcuffed and taken into Meadows’ office for questioning afterthe alleged assault. Turner said the discipline and reprimand hadnothing to do with excessive force. Sam Lankford came to thedefense of his employee, saying that although Meadows erred in notcreating an incident report amd pressing charges, he was motivated by adesire to help Kilfoil. “He should have taken Mr. Kilfoil tojail is what he should have done,” Lankford said. “But he gave Mr.Kilfoil a break and tried to work with him. Any time you have to putyour hands on someone, that results in an arrest. Officer Meadowstrying to work with Mr. Kilfoil is how we got to where we are today.” Walker’sreport indicates that Meadows was suspended from the Gibsonville PoliceDepartment for an alleged assault on a woman before the incident withKilfoil took place. Meadows was reportedly cleared of the charges andoffered reinstatement, but declined. Interviews conducted byWalker with two security officers working with Meadows suggest acover-up was attempted. Officer Omar Mahoney reportedly told Walkerthat Kilfoil tried to write down Mahoney’s name while being detained atMeadows’ office. Walker reports, “Meadows

told him he didn’t feelsafe with him (Kilfoil) knowing the officers’ names, and he may comeback and do something and told him (Kilfoil) to throw the piece ofpaper away. Kilfoil complied.”

Anothersecurity officer, Kevin McIntyre, who initially told Kilfoil and hisfriends to not smoke under the slip, is said to have reported thatafter being asked how the matter was resolved, Meadows put his fingerto his lips and said, “Shhh.” Kilfoil, who works as a restaurant cook,is an acknowledged member of the Almighty Latin King & QueenNation, an organization considered to be a gang by the GreensboroPolice Department. Kilfoil had appeared before television news camerasthree days before the incident at the Depot during a press conferenceat the

Beloved Community Center in which Latin Kings North Carolina leader Jorge Cornell announced a plan to pursue peace among street organizations labeled as gangs.

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.

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