Sanders assigned to patrol after being cleared by GPD

by Jordan Green

Sanders assigned to patrol after being cleared by GPD

With Mayor-elect Bill Knight, an avowed supporter of former police Chief David Wray, imminently slated to take office, the police officer who carried out the controversial investigations of black officers that led to internal protests, various probes and a raft of lawsuits is looking to make a fresh start.

“It’s a new day,” said lawyer Seth Cohen, who represents Officer Scott Sanders, during a press conference on Nov. 20. His client had received a letter from Chief Tim Bellamy the day before informing him that he was being removed from administrative duty and reinstated to regular duty status.

Sanders was joined at the press conference by a number of fellow officers who also came under scrutiny as a result of allegations of racially motivated misconduct under former Chief Wray, including former Deputy Chief Randall Brady, Sgt. Tom Fox and former police hire-back Randy Gerringer.

Sanders said he learned of the decision when the chief came by the supply room, where he has been assigned for the past 18 months. The officer’s administrative duties have included cleaning guns, folding uniforms and issuing supplies.

“At the very least, the city of Greensboro and the council owes my client an apology and the cost of legal expenses,” Cohen said. When asked to quantify those expenses, the lawyer said he would have to add the hours, and would do so if the city were willing to sit down with his client to discuss the matter.

Knight has said he believes the city should issue an apology to Wray and his associates, and pay their legal expenses.

The letter of reinstatement comes at the conclusion of an administrative investigation that began in early 2006, after the resignation of the former chief, and continued after Sanders was acquitted of criminal charges of tampering with a fellow officer’s computer and obstructing justice. The department’s internal affairs division ultimately exonerated Sanders on all counts of alleged misconduct.

Sanders said he has received all back pay due to him. The experience put significant stress on his family and friends, and he said he has learned who his true friends are. The announcement of his full reinstatement made him feel numb, Sanders said. He learned that he would be assigned to a uniformed patrol position, just like Julius Fulmore, one of the black officers that Sanders investigated.

Sanders and Fulmore are both former members of the disbanded special intelligence section. Sanders said he would have preferred to have his old detective job back, but expressed a measure of satisfaction with at least being given a patrol assignment.

Sanders is a co-defendant with the city of Greensboro in two federal racial discrimination lawsuits filed by black officers, including Fulmore.

In September, Lt. James Hinson, another black officer, withdrew a civil suit against the city of Greensboro, Wray and Brady, expressing the hope that the city and the officers could resolve some outstanding matters. At the time, Hinson said he was fully prepared to reinstate the lawsuit within 12 months, which is his right under North Carolina law, if he and the city were not able to come to an agreement out of court. — Jordan Green & Quentin L. Richardson

Greensboro police Officer Scott Sanders (right), accompanied bylawyer Seth Cohen and colleague Sgt. William “Tom” Fox, was cleared inan internal probe. (photo by Quentin L. Richardson)