Greenville police officers sue city council member

Suit alleges Kandie Smith staged encounters to provoke police officers

Executive Director of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association speaks to reporters on Monday August 20, 2018 in Greenville, NC. Source: PBA

GREENVILLE — On Monday, three police officers, backed by the Police Benevolent Association, filed a lawsuit against Greenville City Council member Kandie Smith. The officers, Brock Flannery, Joshua Smith and Travis Brinkley, allege that Smith used her position on the city council to meddle in their police work.

The officers allege Smith took actions against them after they arrested Nash County assistant superintendent Leondus Farrow Jr.  Farrow was a passenger in a car stopped for speeding. The officers allege that Farrow refused to show identification and the officers noticed a spilled beer in the floorboards. They arrested Farrow and charged him with being intoxicated and disruptive and with possession of an open container. Farrow’s next court date is Aug. 23 in Pitt County District Court.

Following Farrow’s arrest, the officers allege that Smith submitted a complaint on Farrow’s behalf to the Greenville Police Department.

In a press release issued by the PBA, they called Smith’s alleged actions “…egregious continued efforts to interfere with the efforts of Greenville police officers to enforce state and local law and to protect the citizens of Greenville.”

The plaintiffs say they were experienced members of the GPD gang unit and allege that they were targeted by Smith in that she “wrongfully and without justification abused her authority as a city council member to pressure the GPD into taking disciplinary action against Plaintiffs, two of whom were fired as a result,” according to court documents.

“The unprecedented and inappropriate personal attacks against our law enforcement officers by some local politicians in our state has caused a chilling effect on the law enforcement community,” said North Carolina PBA Executive Director John Midgette. “We are in hopes that this action sends a message to those elected officials who disrespect the rule of law and the men and women who risk their lives daily to protect it.”

When asked for comment on the lawsuit, Smith said by phone, “I am not in town right now. I don’t have any knowledge of the situation.” Smith also issued a statement saying, “The council only has the authority to make employment decisions concerning the City Manager, City Attorney and the City Clerk. At no time can an individual council member make any decision about the status of the employment of an employee of the City of Greenville. I Kandie Smith am not in receipt of any formal notice of complaint.”

Smith is the Democratic candidate for the District 8 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives.