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Mayor's Office

Posted on: November 15, 2020

Mayor Joines Issues Statement on Hartford Street Incident

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NEWS RELEASE
Office of the Mayor
Nov. 15, 2020

Mayor Allen Joines today released the following statement regarding the incident on Hartford Street Nov. 8 in which police interacted with five teenagers while investigating a report of a house break-in:

“I and many other citizens of Winston-Salem share the concerns and questions raised by the community with regard to the incident involving a juvenile being taken into custody by an officer on Nov. 8 during his investigation into a house break-in on Hartford Street. A video of a portion of the incident was recorded by a neighbor and circulated in public, raising questions about the propriety of the arresting officer’s actions.

When first contacted about this incident, the Winston-Salem Police Department began an internal investigation and that investigation is ongoing. A media statement about the incident was released to the media on Nov. 9. 

Since then, the Police Department has contacted members of the juvenile’s family on more than one occasion to explain the process that they can follow to submit a formal complaint under the Citizen Police Review Board process. In addition, the family was offered the opportunity to view the body camera footage as allowed by law. 

However, access to this same information by others is constrained by state law. Under state law, the police reports and body camera footage are not a public record; however, they can be released pursuant to a court order, which the city will consider pursuing at the appropriate time.

Under the state Personnel Privacy Act, most employee personnel information is likewise confidential, as is juvenile case information. We must respect these laws as all of the facts surrounding this event are established and a determination is made as to whether Winston-Salem Police Department policies were followed - policies which address de-escalation, arrests, the use of force and bias in policing.  

I commit to our citizens that the investigation into this incident, as with similar investigations in the past, will be conducted in a prompt, fair and thorough manner and that the Winston-Salem Police Department will address any conduct of any officer which is not in line with the law, the Police Department's policies and the department's training. The department will be as transparent as the law allows.

I ask for your patience and an open mind until that investigation is completed.”

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