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NAACP wants federal investigation; Mayor acknowledges in-house review of police brutality claims

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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) -

The head of the Salisbury-Rowan Chapter of the NAACP says his organization is talking to lawyers and considering going before the US Department of Justice with complaints about the Salisbury Police Department.

Scott Teamer told WBTV that his organization is upset with recent cases of what he calls excessive use of force and police brutality against African-Americans, as well as a culture that he says exists within the department.

"We think that there's a growing hostility and we think it's unwarranted, unprovoked,"  Teamer told WBTV.  "When you have a gentleman that almost lost his life, two weeks ago, with serious injuries that resulted from a misdemeanor charge, now this young man wasn't charged with assault on police officers, so what was the excessive force warranted for?" 

"So we see things spiraling out of hand and we want to sound the alarm to get the community involved, because like I said we have been meeting with the city." The incident Teamer refers to involves a man named Graham Hosch.

According to Teamer, Hosch was assaulted by officers and had his windpipe crushed by police two weeks ago as he walked away from a bar.

"I don't believe in the word fair, but I do believe in what is right and what is wrong. And some things took place that was wrong," said Hosch's mother Jill Tindal.

A source with knowledge of the incident told WBTV that Hosch was beaten up at the bar prior to the arrival of officers and that the injury did not come from police.

Community activist Dee Dee Wright disputed that claim.

"A lot of the young men that are excessively beaten by police officers, we get a report that it was investigated and they responded appropriately," Wright told WBTV.  "But the latest victim lived."

Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson acknowledged that the incident involving Hosch was now under investigation after he personally discussed the case with Teamer.

"I met with him, I wrote down his complaints," Woodson told WBTV.  "I immediately called Mr. Doug Paris, our city manager, Mr. Zach Kyle, our assistant city manager, Mr. Rory Collins, (police chief), I asked them to please investigate it. 

They have all called me back and said the investigation is in progress and we have to be fair to both sides. 

We want to be fair to the citizens and the police officers because we don't know exactly what happened." Woodson says every complaint that comes to the police department is fully investigated. "If somebody calls a police officer, he's got to go to that scene, he's got to do his job," Woodson said. 

"So we're trying to make sure, we've got to balance this thing out, you know, citizens need to be protected but police officers have rights too, they've got to be protected too, so we're going to do a full investigation and sort this thing out."

"I know I have full faith in the folks on the staff in the city manager and the chief, so I feel like in the next few days we'll get an answer to whatever this problem is, but we want to be fair to both parties." Teamer says he does not trust the integrity of an internal review.

"He might be genuine in his effort, but we question in house investigations," Teamer told WBTV.  "We've said for some  time that there needs to be an outside investigation.  There's a conflict of interest when you investigate yourself, so the mayor may be sincere, but to have another in house investigation is just not satisfactory." NAACP officer and current city council candidate William Peoples echoed Teamer's concerns. "It's time that some real talk be talked," Peoples said. 

"In other words, some people don't want to hear the truth, now it's hard to investigate yourself because of relationships and all those things there.  What I asked for at the beginning of the year is that if they didn't clean up they act that somebody be brought in to help with the situation and I  think when you look at some of the issues we've had in the past, the lawsuits, and all of that, I think it's time that this talk take place, there's a meeting of the minds, some outsiders brought in to help with this situation."

City councilman William "Pete" Kennedy told WBTV that he was confident that the investigation would be impartial.

"We're trying to work with the goals of the NAACP, and we have some issues that we're trying to address, but we have to investigate these things in the appropriate manner."

Teamer told WBTV that he would prefer the US Department of Justice to be involved.

"We've talked with lawyers, we talked with lawyers some in the NAACP and out of the NAACP who believe we have a good case for the Justice Department Review, given the history," Teamer said.

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