Victim doubts reports' validity


Staff Writer

Sunday, August 6, 2017

One local resident is having a hard time believing Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore’s most recent report on the “phenomenal success” the department has had in reducing crime.

“That’s bull,” Jay Williams said of Moore’s report. “People call this place ‘Murder Mount’ for a reason.”

Williams has reason to doubt the report based on his own recent experience. About 2:25 a.m. July 20, Williams was loading his bread truck at a warehouse on South Church Street when he was confronted by a young man who demanded money. Williams could not see his face, but he did see his assailant’s white arm and the gun in his hand. Williams, who has a carry and conceal permit, jumped into the warehouse, pulled his weapon and called police.

Within minutes, several police officers responded. Police couldn't locate the assailant but did talk to several young people standing outside the house next to the warehouse in the wee hours of the morning. They all denied knowledge of the crime.

About two hours later, Williams found out his tires had been damaged. Williams said he called police to report the damage at the same location as the previous event. When Williams asked whether the damaged tires could be connected to the earlier robbery, officers told him no report of the previous incident existed.

“The sergeant who came to the second call said he saw my report in the 911 logs, but there was no paper trail at all after that,” Williams said. “He seemed pretty upset about that.”

A report of the incident later appeared in the system. The numbering of the reports indicates the report was made after Williams asked about it. However, the report wasn't filed as an attempted armed robbery with a dangerous weapon — a reportable violent Part I crime. It was entered merely as a “miscellaneous report of a suspicious event,” though a handgun is clearly listed as a weapon.

“It is appalling that they consider what happened to me ‘a miscellaneous report,’” Williams said. “It makes me feel that they don’t care.”

Although Williams can't identify who tried to rob him, he saw a mugshot of a fugitive on the Fighting Crime Facebook page with a last known address matching the house next to the warehouse. Following up on the information, the Telegram learned the Wilson Police Department had arrest warrants outstanding for a resident of that home in connection with an incident in Wilson that took place the same night Williams was accosted. The crime? Attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. Wilson police said they reached out to Rocky Mount police to ask whether any violent crimes had recently been reported at the South Church Street location. Rocky Mount police said no.

Rocky Mount police Capt. Marty Clay said the reason the incident was classified as a miscellaneous report was that the victim was not clear about the use of the weapon during the incident.

“When you look at the body camera footage, what you were told is not what we were told at the exact time,” Clay said.

However, the audio of the 911 call makes it clear how the crime was originally reported. Williams mentions at least five times during the 911 call that his assailant had a gun. 

“The guy had a mask and a gun ... He said ‘Give me your money’ and they pulled a gun,” Williams said during the 911 call.

Williams said he feels the way crime is reported in Rocky Mount reflects problems with the leadership of the police department more than that of the rank and file. Williams told the Telegram he reached out to a former city cop when deciding whether to grant an interview to the newspaper.

“He said, ‘Yeah, you need to do this. It’s not the cops. They are handcuffed from above. They are turning in reports and then told to rewrite stuff.’ My friend said this issue is why he no longer works for the Rocky Mount Police Department,” Williams said.