Two North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers who were fired earlier this year after beating an unarmed man face additional charges of lying about their role in the incident that sparked widespread attention.
Tabithia L. Davis and Michael G. Blake were charged this week with one felony count each of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, the Wake County district attorney said Wednesday.
A grand jury also handed up an indictment against former Highway Patrol Sgt. R.T. Goswick for the same charges. Goswick was the troopers’ supervisor on the night of April 3, when 29-year-old Kyron Hinton was beaten by law enforcement officers in east Raleigh.
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Investigators say Goswick told Blake and Davis not to mention in their reports that they used force against Hinton, who suffered broken bones during the encounter that was captured on video.
Goswick later concluded it was difficult to see exactly what happened on the video and that all the troopers did was “assist in holding the man down,” according to court records.
In June, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman filed a court petition to obtain personnel records from the Highway Patrol.
“We have been reviewing those records for the last few months,” Freeman said Wednesday.
Blake and Davis were charged in May with assault inflicting bodily injury and willfully failing to discharge duties. They were fired from the Highway Patrol June 15.
Goswick was fired Sept. 18, patrol spokesman First Sgt. Michael Baker said Wednesday.
Several people called 911 the night of April 3 to report Hinton standing in the middle of the road.
Raleigh police were already at the scene on North Raleigh Boulevard when a Wake County sheriff’s deputy arrived and unleashed his K-9 on Hinton, whose family has said suffers from mental-health issues.
A struggle ensued, and “a voice believed to be that of ... Blake is heard commanding one or more of the officers on the scene to start hitting Mr. Hinton in the head, to hit him in the head again, and to hit his head with a flashlight,” according to Freeman’s court petition.
“These commands were given multiple times and were interlaced with profanities,” the petition said. “At one point, an officer can be seen hitting and kicking Mr. Hinton while he is on the ground.”
One of the officers can be heard asking Davis whether she was able to “get some in,” in reference to striking Hinton. Davis “responded in the affirmative” and also said she hit him with a flashlight, according to the court petition.
Blake could be heard saying that he kicked Hinton in the ribs, the petition said.
Goswick saw video footage of the encounter and determined that the troopers did not use force against Hinton, according to the petition.
Blake was also involved in a 2016 beating that left a man with head injuries, broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Blake was not criminally charged or disciplined for the incident near Cary.
Blake’s attorney, Joseph Blount Cheshire V, said in a statement Wednesday that this week’s indictment against Blake “is part of a dangerous trend in today’s society.”
“Mike Blake has been a public servant for his entire career. At no time did he feloniously assault Kyron Hinton nor did he attempt to obstruct justice in any way,” Cheshire said. “Law enforcement officers have to make split second decisions in life threatening situations on a regular basis. To second guess their decisions and to accuse them of criminal activity when there is no evidence of criminal intent, is to recklessly disregard their years of training, experience on the job and service to the community.”
Blake will plead not guilty in court, his attorney said.
Davis and Blake turned themselves in this week at the Wake County jail, where they were processed and released, Freeman said Wednesday. She said Goswick is expected to turn himself in to authorities Monday.
Cameron Broadwell, the sheriff’s deputy who unleashed his dog on Hinton, remains on administrative duty after he was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury and willful failure to discharge duties.