While Gastonia is a smaller city in North Carolina that has avoided controversy throughout much of its history, there still have been instances of police misconduct. Probably the most well know story of police brutality to ever hit Gastonia involved the organized mistreatment of a number of homeless residents by officers over the course of about three years.
Homeless beating scandal occurred between 1987 and 1990
In the 1990s, Gastonia was the subject of a large scale investigation regarding beatings of homeless people. The scandal resulted in several Gastonia officers being criminally charged for assault and civil rights violations, and a suspicious alleged suicide of a man who had told on the police for their improper actions.
An investigation found that seven officers had apparently been using citizen band radios to orchestrate attacks on homeless people where they were hit with liquids such as coffee and urine, or beaten at other times if they appeared to be intoxicated. The extra radios were deliberately used to avoid having their conversations monitored as a part of official police business. Three of the seven officers who were ultimately charged plead guilty and agreed to give testimony and details about the orchestrated violence against homeless citizens.
After the investigation started, the homeless man who was the first to speak out about the police beatings was found dead in his mother’s mobile home of an alleged suicide. Police gave a suspicious account about the man propping the large rifle against a wall and using a stick to pull a trigger after leaving a suicide note. Those who knew the man say he was illiterate and would not have been able to write the note. Others involved in the prosecution also reported lesser acts of intimidation by the local police.
It is best to speak out against police brutality
Despite the fact that these incidents received much attention at the time, there are instances of police brutality and mistreatment that go unnoticed. Many people feel they are powerless because they would need to report an issue to the same departments that employ the officers. Even though the homeless individuals from the previous story were some of the least likely to be able to prevail against the police, justice was eventually served in the form of both civil and criminal penalties after one victim stood up and did something about it.
There are more effective ways to get back at the police today, including the mass availability of recording technologies to document their actions. In most situations, it is best to try to collect as much evidence and documentation as possible, then contact a lawyer to file a civil lawsuit on your behalf rather than reporting issues to a local department. This preserves your privacy and tends to be a more effective long term solution. Keeping some distance from the department may also be especially important in situations where police attempt to retaliate against someone who reports their misbehavior.
Speak with an attorney in Gastonia
Lawyers who are licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina, with expertise in police misconduct issues, can speak to you about the possibility of filing a lawsuit. J. Boyce Garland, Jr. Attorney at Law has an office in Gastonia where he has been practicing law for decades. Mr. Garland has experience in handling all kinds of civil cases and he can give personalized advice after discussing the specifics of your situation.