A 29-year-old homeless man says he was brutally beaten earlier this month by law enforcement officers while he was unarmed and crossing a street in East Raleigh.
Kyron Dwain Hinton says he suffered a fractured eye socket and broken nose and was bitten more than 20 times by a K9 animal during an encounter with Raleigh police officers and Wake County sheriff's deputies. The incident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. April 3 at North Raleigh Boulevard and Yonkers Road.
The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a probe of the incident, including the use of force by law enforcement, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Wednesday.
Hinton said during an interview Tuesday that he didn't know why he was being arrested that night or why officers hit him and used a K9.
"I started praying out loud, 'Lord please stop this. Please help me,'" Hinton recalled. "After that, all I remember is waking up in the hospital."
The Wake County Sheriff's Office charged Hinton with three misdemeanors: disorderly conduct, resisting a public officer and assault on a law enforcement animal.
He is accused of ignoring a deputy's commands to get on the ground and physically resisting while being handcuffed.
Deputies say Hinton caused a public disturbance "by engaging in violent conduct" and "creating the threat of imminent fighting and violence."
An arrest warrant says Hinton was yelling, implying that he had a gun and pointing his hand in the air as if he had a firearm. He is also accused of striking Loki, a K9 with the sheriff's office, in the face and head.
Hinton said he had left Good Luck Sweepstakes that night after losing all of his money in a game. He was headed to downtown Raleigh when police stopped him in the middle of the street.
Hinton said he did not make any threats or threatening gestures.
"I was angry," he said. "I didn't say I wasn't, and I was moving my arms and hands from side to side, but not with a threatening action."
Hinton said he did not see the additional officers who arrived in patrol cars, including who he eventually learned were members of the special operations unit with the sheriff's office.
"I heard a female officer's voice and multiple men's voices. Then one of the officers punched me in the side of the face," he said. "The only thing I was doing was talking junk. I was saying, 'Why you stopped me? This is some b******t. I didn't threaten nobody. I didn't have gun."
Hinton said he was on the ground, on his stomach, when the K9 bit him on his side, arms and head. He denies striking the dog.
"I didn't hit nobody," he said. I "didn't grab nobody. I really couldn't."
He said that after he was handcuffed, he could feel his pants being pulled down and then the dog started sniffing him.
"They let the dog sniff my crack," he said. "I thought he was going to mess with my privates."
Hinton has been in contact with an attorney, and he is getting help from Dawn Blagrove, an attorney with the Carolina Justice Policy Center; Diana Powell, executive director of Justice Served NC; and Kimberly Muktarian, founder of Raleigh group Save Our Sons.
He has not yet filed a formal complaint against the Raleigh Police Department or the Wake County Sheriff's Office.
Freeman, the district attorney, said the SBI's investigation is ongoing.
"We take this matter extremely seriously and are working diligently to move that investigation forward in a timely manner," she said in an email Wednesday. "Our immediate focus is on protecting the integrity of the investigation. As with all of these types of investigations, we understand the intense interest from the public, and will make every effort to release information, including video in the possession of law enforcement, that can be shared without undermining the investigation or any potential prosecution."
The Raleigh Police Department's use of non-deadly force policy directs its officers "to evaluate each confrontation with a citizen in light of the known circumstances," including the seriousness of the crime, the level of threat threat and whether the person is a danger to the community. Officers are also allowed to use non-deadly force if someone is resisting an arrest or search or attempting to escape from custody.
Similarly, the Wake County Sheriff's Office policy states that "force should only be used for legitimate law enforcement purposes."
It says that "deputies shall not utilize force merely as a result of verbal provocation, however extreme. Deputies shall not strike or attempt to strike individuals who are handcuffed or otherwise sufficiently restrained unless such person is attempting to kick, bite or otherwise assault the deputy, and the deputy cannot otherwise reasonably avoid such assault from the individual."
The guidelines also tell deputies that "if feasible, a verbal warning should be given prior to the use of force."
Hinton said the law enforcement officers didn't ask for identification.
"They didn't say put your hands up. They didn't say get on the ground," he said. "They didn't say anything."
Hinton has a criminal record. In 2003, when he was 14, he was charged as an adult for four armed robberies and spent a little over four years behind bars. In 2012, he served three months after he was convicted of felony possession of drugs. Two years before, he received probation for possession of counterfeit drugs, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
Hinton was treated at WakeMed for three days and then was transported to the Wake County jail, where he was placed under a $3,000 bail.
He said he needs surgery on his eye socket, because the vision problems he's had since the incident could get worse.
"I'm having memory loss," he said. "I can't remember how to get places, and I been living here all my life."