Legal trouble continues to follow the mayor of small-town Sharpsburg, who was hailed last year as a fighter of voter disenfranchisement.
First, Mayor Robert L. Williams Jr. was charged with driving while impaired the night he was elected. Now in office, he is accused of retaliating against the town's police officers, including the officer who wrote his ticket.
His behavior has drawn a letter of complaint from the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, accusing the new mayor of "racially charged insults and inappropriate hand gestures."
On May 8, Williams was elected mayor of the 2,000-resident town after a court-ordered rematch of the race he lost by 3 votes in 2017. The night he won, he was charged with DWI along with carrying a concealed gun and resisting an officer — charges that are still pending.
Since then, the law enforcement association said a situation has arisen that is perceived as "urgent."
Williams, reached Wednesday, hung up the telephone after a request for comment.
"Talk to my attorney in reference to that. Goodbye," he said. He did not provide a lawyer's name.
In the letter dated June 7, John Midgette, executive director of the Benevolent Association, wrote the Sharpsburg Town Council in an attempt to resolve the situation. Among the complaints, Midgette said Williams had improperly removed and replaced the town's police commissioner with the police chief and abruptly ended a Town Council meeting without proper authority.
"Any action to set aside existing law and authority that supersedes local authority or law is not only patently absurd, but clearly unlawful," Midgette said. "The actions reek of personal bias and retaliation."
Midgette wrote that Williams acted after police pulled him over at a traffic stop and discovered he was driving with a revoked license as a result of the earlier DWI. In an interview, Midgette said a ticket wasn't written for the revoked license.
The association is the largest group of law enforcement officers in North Carolina, representing those in Sharpsburg since the 1990s. It promised to zealously advocate for their interests if asked to resolve matters amicably rather than pursuing other measures.
Midgette said in an interview that Williams had been "giving the proverbial finger" to officers. Last weekend, he said, the mayor followed several Sharpsburg officers, including the police officer who wrote his DWI ticket.
The town scheduled an emergency meeting to address the police association's letter but Midgette said the meeting was canceled because of a lack of quorum. Midgette said Williams came to the meeting but wouldn’t answer when his name was called.
WRAL reported Williams asked for it to be delayed "because I don't have appropriate representation because of what this biased and racially motivated council has against me."
Shortly afterward, CBS 17 posted a video of Williams exiting Town Hall and appearing to shove a reporter, saying, "Get out of my face, man!" The reporter asked if he had been drinking and Williams walked away.
Midgette said he hopes the meeting will be rescheduled.
The recent events come after Williams fought to become mayor of the town that's about 55 miles east of Raleigh and is south of Rocky Mount. It's split between Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties.
Williams sought a new election after losing the 2017 race to incumbent Mayor Randy Weaver. It was reported that dozens of voters had been turned away from the polls in a majority black precinct, where only 12 ballots got printed.
On his second try, in a rematch ordered by a Wake County judge, he defeated Weaver by seven votes.
Williams had no comment in May following his arrest. His blood alcohol content was .13, police told CBS17. The legal limit in North Carolina is .08 BAC.
Williams served in the Army during the Gulf War and worked as a Rocky Mount police officer.
He is a former councilman and has been mayor of Sharpsburg before. He was appointed as mayor in 2011, according to the Rocky Mount Telegram, but lost to Weaver in 2013.