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White detective pressured associates to implicate black cop

by Jordan Green

In March 2005,following a nine-month administrative investigation and suspension,Greensboro police Officer Julius "Jay" Fulmore received a first-levelreprimand from Sgt. Tom Fox, commanding officer of the specialintelligence section. The discipline stemmed from a 2002 traffic stopof a prostitute named Brenda Weidman. The facts, Fox noted, were thatWeidman and Fulmore became involved as informant and contact officer,and that Fulmore did not complete any informant contact cards or informhis supervisor about his dealings with Weidman. Ordinarily,such an event would seem unremarkable, little more than an embarrassinglapse buried in a police officer’s personnel file. Severalthings would set Fulmore’s case apart, and thrust him unwillingly intothe center of a racially colored battle for hearts and minds inGreensboro. For starters, Detective Scott Sanders and two other whiteofficers had made an aggressive attempt to connect Fulmore, who isblack, to a hotel episode of drugs and sex with Weidman. Most gallingfor Fulmore’s detractors on and off the force, the special intelligenceunit would be disbanded following the abrupt resignation of Chief DavidWray, and Sanders and Fox would both be indicted on charges related tointerfering with investigations by black officers. WhileFulmore was suspended, Sanders and vice-narcotics detective BrianBissett had turned their case files over to Guilford County AssistantDistrict Attorney Howard Neumann, who concluded there was insufficientevidence to bring criminal charges against Fulmore, Cpl. N. Davis ofthe Professional Standards Division wrote in a report to Wray. Thereport was signed by Davis, Assistant Chief Craig Hartley and,ultimately, Wray himself. Black police officers would come to describe Sanders and his white cohorts as "the secret police." 3847a.jpg"Sincethe development of the secret police, prostitutes and strippers havetelephoned black employees of the police department trying to lure theminto illicit and illegal conduct," reads a letter from July 2005 thatwas addressed to then-District Attorney Stuart Albright and signed "THECONCERNED." "The secret police have sought out criminals who have knownAfrican-American police officers casually, provided them with a storyto relate to the police officer and recorded conversation to see whatkind of information would be divulged." The author of theletter is not identified, and it remains unclear whether Albright, whois now a superior court judge in Guilford County, ever received it. Theletter is among extensive documents produced by Fulmore last fall inresponse to a discovery motion by writer Jerry Bledsoe and TheRhinoceros Times, who are codefendants in a libel lawsuit. Informationfrom the discovery materials later surfaced in accounts published inThe Rhinoceros Times and The Troublemaker blog maintained byWinston-Salem resident Ben Holder. Amiel Rossabi, who is Fulmore’slawyer, complained that those stories were written "out of context andincompletely." The trouble for Fulmore started on June 3, 2004when vice-narcotics Detective LT Marshall noted the officer’s name onthe registry at the Red Carpet Inn for the previous night. Hotel staffinformed Marshall that they suspected prostitution activity next doorin Room 310, which had been occupied by Weidman, and in two otherrooms, according to Davis. Marshall contacted Sanders andBissett, and the three searched Room 311, the one registered toFulmore. Among the evidence gathered was a beer bottle, a used condom,two open condom packages, cigarette butts, a test tube with a whiteresidue that tested positive for cocaine, a metal rod and a torncigarette box. The internal affairs report notes that "no crime scene investigator was called and no photographs were taken at the scene." Weidman,who had been out when Marshall made his sweep, reportedly returnedbefore noon. First she denied having been at the hotel the previousnight, but then reportedly changed her story "after being confrontedwith the information that Detective Fulmore rented a room next to herroom and she was seen going in and out of both rooms." She reportedlytold the detectives that she had called Fulmore the night before atabout 11 p.m. and that she had joined him at Room 311. She reportedlycontinued that Fulmore had produced a bag of seven grams of cocaine andasked her to cook it. The report indicates that Weidman told thedetectives that she smoked a small amount to confirm it was good, andthat Fulmore had given her $100 worth of cooked cocaine and placed therest of it in a plastic bag before the two had sex. AfterWeidman identified Fulmore in a photographic lineup, she agreed to takea polygraph. The examination reportedly had to be restarted three timesbecause Weidman kept falling asleep. Weidman’s credibility was alsoundermined by the fact that Fulmore had been at the hotel that nightwith a female friend, who readily admitted to investigators that thetwo had had sex. Fulmore told investigators that he had rented the roomfor an employee at his automotive shop and who had recently becomehomeless. The employee had used the room after Fulmore and his friendconcluded their tryst. Police reports indicate that all threecooperated with investigators and provided consistent accounts. Fulmore’stwo associates reported being threatened with criminal charges andpublic exposure by Sanders and the other two detectives if they didn’tcooperate in implicating Fulmore. The young woman was 19 or 20at the time she met Fulmore. She wore her hair in long braids and aDepartment of Motor Vehicle photo shows her displaying a radiant smile.Police records show that she had been the reported victim of domesticviolence at both the hands of her boyfriend and her stepfather,including an incident when she was 13 when police found her with bloodon her face after her stepfather reportedly punched her. When policeshowed up at the family’s home on McConnell Road to investigate theassault, they found two babies, 5 and 22 months old, attended by thegirl’s 8-year-old brother. The girl, then 13, told police that shecared for her younger siblings after her 27-year-old mother left in theevening to work overnight at a retirement home. Police records showedthat the girl sometimes responded to stress at home by running away toher grandmother’s house. By all accounts, the young woman’s relationship with Fulmore proceeded from a foundation of kindness. "Theymet one day when she and her little girl were walking near herresidence," reads a narrative base on an August 2004 internal affairsinterview with the woman. "The basis of their relationship is afriendship in which they would talk about every two months. DetectiveFulmore would help her get personal problems sorted out. She advised hehas never promised her or any of her friends any legal assistance. Shehas never met Detective Fulmore while he was on duty that she was awareof, and she has never been inside his city vehicle. Ms. Davis statedthat she has never seen Detective Fulmore with drugs or known him to door have any drugs. She also stated she has never used drugs mainlybecause of a diabetic medical condition." Cpl. N. Davis and Cpl.RL Walton of internal affairs had come in behind Detective ScottSanders and Detective Brian Bissett, whose intelligence activities wereintended to gather evidence to support possible criminal charges.Internal affairs is charged with conducting administrativeinvestigations in matters that do not meet the threshold of criminalconduct. Fulmore’s friend told internal affairs investigatorsthat shortly after the tryst, three white police officers had come toher apartment on Overland Heights, and she reported being subjected tothreats and harassment. There is some discrepancy in accounts of thetiming of the three white officers’ visit: An unsigned intelligencefile indicates that they first interviewed the woman at her apartmenton June 7, five days after the hotel incident, but she later toldinternal affairs investigators that they came to talk to her the dayafter the tryst. "[The police officers] advised her DetectiveFulmore was in big trouble because drug residue and paraphernalia wasfound in the hotel room," the narrative reads. "She informed theofficers she never saw any drugs in the room and she did not thinkthere was any way there could have been. She stated they told her ifshe lied to them they were going to take her down with him, andeveryone would find out. She stated they also informed her they wouldcharge her with obstruct and delay and "put her name out there.’" Whiletrying to substantiate allegations of a sexual liaison between Fulmoreand Weidman, the investigators appeared to be also trying to determinewhether his relationship with the female friend might meet thedefinition of prostitution. "The officers inquired if DetectiveFulmore had ever given her any money, and she replied he would give hertwenty dollars here and there to help out with things like her medicalcondition," the narrative reads. "Ms. Davis advised a few days later,the officers came to her mother’s residence and told her she had totake a lie detector test." The officers reportedly told the woman’smother that "someone had been cooking drugs" in the hotel room, and thewoman reported that several weeks later her boyfriend returned homeangry "because the officers went to his home inquiring about DetectiveFulmore." Fulmore told Walton and Davis in a September 2004administrative interview that he went to the Red Carpet Inn to secure aroom for his employee after he learned that he had no place to stay. Onthe way to the hotel, the female friend called and he picked her upnear the apartment at Overland Heights. After checking in, Fulmore andhis friend went in the room and watched television. They would latergive matching accounts: Fulmore drank a Natural Light beer and smoked acigarette and the friend drank a diet soda before the two had sex. Theyleft the hotel at about 7:30 p.m. Fulmore said he went back tohis shop to work on a car, and he later met his homeless employee ataround midnight at a Hardees restaurant on Randleman Road to give himthe key. Still later the employee called Fulmore at home to say he washaving trouble getting into the room. Fulmore spoke to the night clerkand gave his assurance that the employee had permission to stay in Room311. "The truth of that episode is exactly what Jay said," saidRossabi, Fulmore’s lawyer. "Whatever Bledsoe says about the event andwhatever pejorative framework he places on it, the evidence supportsJay’s recounting of the events, not Bledsoe’s story." Similar toFulmore’s female friend, his employee told internal affairsinvestigators that three white police officers came to talk to him aday or so after the night at the hotel, but intelligence file indicatesthat the interview took place on June 7. In both cases, intelligencefiles identify the three officers as Sanders, Bissett and Marshall. Theemployee later told Cpl. Davis of internal affairs that the threeofficers asked "if and how he knew Detective J. Fulmore and where hewas sleeping." "He stated the officers informed him after heleft the room, they searched it and found drugs," the narrative reads.The employee "advised they told him if he confessed to what was foundin the room, he would do thirty years because he had been convictedbefore. He stated the officers were trying to get him to say the drugsbelonged to Detective Fulmore. He advised he told them anything in theroom was his and he took full responsibility for it." Theemployee told Davis "there were no drugs in the room. He advised therewas no one in the room when he got there, and Detective Fulmore nevercame back to the room while he was there." The employee said he didn’tsmoke in the room, but admitted to leaving the cigarette pack and tubethat were later recovered by the investigators in the room. An unsignedintelligence file quotes the employee as telling Sanders and the othertwo white officers: "If I had crack, I would have smoked it." AsSanders escalated pressure, the employee reportedly said, "If you wantto put it on me, I’ll take it. Not Jay." A polygraph examinationadministered to the employee, as with Fulmore’s female friend, cameback with the finding that no deception was indicated. Theemployee’s interview with internal affairs also sheds some light on whyBrenda Weidman might have been perceived as going in and out of Room311 – information repeated by Sanders and the white officers thatprompted the prostitute-informant’s false confession. Sanders hadinitially reported that a hotel maid said she saw a white female leaveRoom 310 and go into Room 311, but when Cpl. Davis of internal affairsfollowed up months later the maid "could not clearly articulate whatshe saw" outside of rooms 310 and 311. Fulmore’s employee told Cpl.Davis that when he got to the hotel he initially had trouble findingthe right room, and a white female tried to help him get into a room. ADNA analysis of the condom recovered from Room 311 lends support toFulmore’s assertion that he did not have sex with Weidman that night.The analysis, which compared the condom to DNA swabs from both Fulmoreand Weidman, found that Fulmore could not be excluded as thecontributor to the DNA obtained from the inside of the condom, buteliminated Weiman as the source of DNA collected from the outside of it. Onesegment of the administrative report filed by Cpl. Davis on the Fulmoreinvestigation leaves some troubling loose ends. In a previous report,YES! Weekly speculated that a page removed from the Davis report mighthave been written by Sanders. Davis, the true author, wrote thatdeception was indicated in Fulmore’s response to a question aboutwhether he had sex with Weidman during a polygraph administered byWinston-Salem police Detective JF Rogers. The report also notes,"Detective Rogers stated from an overall evaluation of the examination,his certified opinion revealed deception was indicated." Rossabisaid he expects a lawyer to testify in the libel case filed againstBledsoe and The Rhinoceros Times that Fulmore was informed that hepassed the polygraph. He added that he believes the detective did notproperly administer the examination. "Jerry Bledsoe’s "Cops InBlack and White’ is not a piece of investigative journalism," Rossabisaid. "Instead it is a concerted and calculated effort to mis-portray,misrepresent and create events in order to fulfill his immoral andimproper goals." To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.’­ ‘­

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