The chief of a Raleigh-based private police force used a stun gun without reason to assault three people he arrested and pepper-sprayed a fourth between July 2015 and last January, according to indictments handed up by a Wake County grand jury on Monday.
The indictments also accuse Joseph Michael Conover, chief of the Nova Agency Company Police, with illegally accessing the state’s Division of Criminal Information Network computers in April 2015 to look up information about four people who were all named Craig Smith but had different birth dates.
The charges came after the State Bureau of Investigation looked into Conover’s actions as chief of the private police force, which contracts with apartment communities, subdivisions and businesses to provide police protection.
Company police officers have to meet the same hiring requirements as municipal police and have the same arrest powers and the right to carry guns.
The indictments also charged Conover, 38, of Copperleaf Parkway in Durham, with obstructing justice by “providing false and misleading information for the purpose of commencing and furthering the prosecution” of the three men and the woman he is accused of assaulting.
Conover failed to discharge his duty by violating the rights of the four under the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions, the indictments also alleged.
Wake County District Attorney Lorris Freeman said Tuesday that her office is dismissing about 35 cases in which Conover was the arresting officer.
Conover initially was held in lieu of $2 million bail after his arrest Monday afternoon. He was released on a $250,000 bond following an initial court appearance Tuesday.