Complaint substantiated against officer who confronted men for “walking in the street”
Community activists are claiming victory after an internal police review panel
substantiated a complaint lodged by two men after a police officer confronted them
for walking in the street.
Brothers Rufus and Devin Scales of Memphis Street in Greensboro filed a complaint
against an officer last month after he confronted them minutes after they left their
grandmother’s home headed toward a nearby store.
The incident took place Aug. 4 near Smith Homes. Officer T.B. Cole of the Greensboro
Police Department was on patrol in the area and passed by the Scales brothers as they
walked along Memphis Street toward Atlanta Street. The residential street is without
sidewalks. Cole reportedly yelled from his vehicle for the men to “get out of the
street” and then stopped and got out of his car.
A pair of videos captured by Devin Scales shows Cole approaching the men and demanding
identification. A later clip shows Cole arresting Rufus Scales after he asked “what’s
this bullsh*t about?”
A letter from police Capt. Joel Cranford of the Professional Standards Division of the GPD dated Sept. 16 states that “there was evidence to substantiate your complaint
against Officer Cole for his actions on August 4, 2014.”
A police spokesperson said earlier this week that the complaint by the Scales brothers
had resulted in remedial action taken against Officer Cole. Remedial action falls
short of disciplinary action that would be a matter of public record. The department
declined to clarify what decisions or actions Cole was criticized for. Examples of
remedial action include counseling or additional training.
The department also extended an offer for the Scales brothers to engage in mediation
with Officer Cole to further understanding of the incident.
“The goal of mediation is to help participants understand each other’s actions,
behavior and motivations and thereby strengthen the relationship between the community
and the Police Department,” Cranford wrote.
It is unclear if the Scales brothers intend to accept the offer of further mediation.
Rev. Nelson Johnson has mentored the Scales brothers in recent months and has
represented their interests following the Aug. 4 incident. In a letter to supporters
dated Sept. 25 Johnson said that community action had been effective.
“Your involvement, along with hundreds of others, is what compelled this rare positive
outcome from the Police internal review of citizens’ complaints,” Johnson wrote. “We
are convinced that had there not been a ‘movement’ for Police Accountability,
Community Safety and Healing carrying on this struggle for justice the case, the
pattern of police misconduct reflected in the Scales case would have been covered up
and concealed as usual.”
Johnson, a veteran of community activism in Greensboro, is currently spearheading a
movement to implement an independent citizen review committee that would address
citizen complaints against police actions. Several university professors and legal
experts have come together to form the Interim Citizens Police Review Committee. The
group lacks legislative authority over police personnel matters, but community
activists insist that it is necessary to augment the city’s official complaint review
A public meeting on police accountability is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Genesis Baptist
Church in Greensboro.