The Cumberland County Sheriff’s office announced that five deputies have been disciplined after their actions at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C. The rally on March 9 received attention by the national media after a 78-year-old man was recorded on video sucker-punching a black male who was being escorted out of the Crown Coliseum by deputies.
Rakeem Jones, the 26-year-old man who was filmed being punched from several angles around the coliseum, as well as others in attendance were disturbed that the sheriff’s deputies failed to identify or detain his attacker. It wasn’t until the following day that John Franklin McGraw was identified as the assailant.
“I thought I was being arrested, to be honest,” Jones said. “I saw, later on, that [McGraw] went back to his seat so I am trying to figure out why was he able to go back to his seat.
McGraw was arrested and charged with assault and battery and with disorderly conduct. He also has been charged with communicating threats.
“The actions of the deputies and their failures to act in situations such as that which occurred during the Trump rally at the Crown Coliseum have never been and will not ever be tolerated under the policies of this office,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler in a press release.
According to Butler, the deputies involved in the incident had “exemplary” conduct in the past and good records, which he had to take into account in deciding how to discipline them.
“I have taken into account the past bravery and exemplary conduct, including the life-saving and other actions of these deputies in assessing the discipline, and in imposing the sanctions,” Butler said.
Butler says that the five deputies will be placed on probation for a year and have been reprimanded. Three deputies have been demoted in rank and suspending for five days without pay because of their “failure to discharge their duties” and “unsatisfying performance. The other two deputies have each been suspended without pay.
“We regret that any of the circumstances at the Trump rally occurred, and we regret that we have had to investigate all of these matters,” Butler said. “It is our duty and responsibility to do justice, and to carefully examine not only the actions of others, but our own actions to ensure that the law and our policies are justly and fairly enforced.”
The names of the five deputies have not been released to the public. There were over 60 deputies in attendance at the March 9 rally, according to Sgt. Sean Swain.
The Washington Post also reports that the sheriff’s office announced this week that after reviewing evidence, it would not file misdemeanor charges of inciting a riot against Trump.
Sheriff’s office attorney Ronnie Mitchell said that they “have not been able to unearth evidence” that the violence was in any way “incited or motivated by Mr. Trump.”
News of the deputies being reprimanded came the same day another story of violence from the March 9 rally emerged.
The Fayetteville Observer reports that an ECU student published a video of another attack, where he was groundlessly removed from the event by deputies who failed to stop another man from verbally and physically assaulting him.
Adedayo Adeniyi, 20, a Nigerian who attends East Carolina University in Greenville, has said in interviews with The New York Daily News and the East Carolinian college newspaper that a Trump rally-goer slapped him in the face as authorities led him out of the Crown Coliseum, where the rally was held.
Adeniyi said in the published accounts that he was not protesting when deputies told him he had to go. Adeniyi alleges that deputies randomly targeted and tossed him from the event because he’s black.
That full story and the cell phone video of the second attack is available at The Fayetteville Observer.