Jail assault at Cherokee County Detention Center

Press Release

MURPHY, N.C. – On May 2, 2018, an incident occurred at the Cherokee County Detention Center. The incident regarded an allegation of two detention officers involved in an assault of a federal inmate George Victor Stokes, who was sentenced and awaiting transport to federal prison. The detention officers involved were identified as Wesley Gage Killian, a part-time employee, and Sgt. Josh Gunter.

As the incident was brought to Sheriff Derrick Palmer’s attention, he requested Lt. Joe Wood, of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Division, to conduct an internal investigation of the detention officers named. Upon conducting interviews and reviewing available physical evidence, Lt. Wood reported back to Sheriff Palmer his preliminary findings. Sheriff Palmer, upon recommendation of Lt. Wood, suspended the two detention officers pending the completion of the internal investigation.

Upon completion of the investigation, Sheriff Palmer then terminated the detention officers due to violation of department policy and procedure as regarding the treatment of inmates. The unlawful assault of an inmate is a violation of Cherokee County Detention Center Policy and Procedure.

Sheriff Palmer made immediate contact with the District Attorney Ashley Welch. Upon conversation with the district attorney, it was agreed that a joint request should be made to the state Bureau of Investigation by both the District Attorney’s Office and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office to have a criminal investigation conducted regarding the conduct of the two detention officers. The request was then made and accepted by the state Bureau of Investigation.

Due to the fact that Stokes was a federal inmate being housed at the Cherokee County Detention Center, the U.S. Marshall’s Office was notified of the incident. The state Bureau of Investigation assigned an agent to investigate the matter. All evidence gained, including detention center video surveillance, interviews, statements and reports obtained in the internal investigation conducted by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was turned over to the state Bureau of Investigation as part of their ongoing criminal investigation. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office continues to work with the state Bureau of Investigations and the District Attorney’s Office in full cooperation until this matter is to a resolution.

Commissioners consider opiod litigation

News

MURPHY, N.C. – At its Thursday, May 10, meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners heard from Garry Whitaker, a Winston-Salem attorney involved with federal litigation against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors concerning the national opiod epidemic.

Whitaker told commissioners 643 government entities nationwide are apart of the litigation seeking compensation for damages incurred from the opiod epidemic. Of those entities, Whitaker stated, 43 counties and 6 cities were in the state of North Carolina.

Of the opiod problem, Whitaker stated, “It may not be as pervasive as the plague, (but) it is very pervasive. For instance, last year, there was a 40 percent increase in the state of North Carolina in hospital emergency room admissions for overdoses related to opiods.”

According to date presented by Whitaker, since 1999, over 15,000 people have died in North Carolina as a result of opiod overdoses. In that time, 93 opiate poisoning deaths have occurred within Cherokee County alone, with double-digit spikes seen in the years of 2010 and 2011.

“This is a serious problem,” Whitaker stressed.

According to Whitaker, for every 100 persons in Cherokee County, 125 prescriptions were issued in 2016. Whitaker stated the national average for this statistic is 66 prescriptions per 100 persons.

Whitaker explained the litigation group consists of a consortium of six legal teams and firms from throughout the country.

“It is our contention that (pharmaceutical manufacturers) have oversold the benefits and undersold or trivialized the risks (of opiods),” Whitaker stated.

Giving a brief history of opiods and legislative control of the drugs, Whitaker stated in the past opiods were prescribed mainly to cancer and surgery patients and not for chronic pain but that a shift in thought from pharmaceutical companies has contributed to the opiod epidemic.

Whitaker further explained the suit is intended to go after pharmaceutical companies only and not individual doctors or pharmacies, saying that this prospect is simply not feasible.

After a series of questions about the suit from County Attorney Darryl Brown, no decision was made by the commission whether or not to move forward with joining the litigation.

Cherokee County Tax Assessor Eddie Allen presented commissioners with bids for the county’s 2020 property revaluation. According to Allen, the revaluation will fulfill the state mandate that all counties update appraisals for all parcels within the county every eight years. Cherokee County contains approximately 33,000 parcels  of property, Allen added.

Allen told the commissioners bid proposals were sent to all 15 appraisal firms except one that are approved by the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Of those, only two firms – C.B. Ferriss, Inc. and Tanner Valuation Group, LLC – submitted bids to the county. A third firm submitted a bid but withdrew that bid from consideration.

Allen recommended C.B. Ferriss for overseeing and managing the revaluation, saying if he had to hand-pick one of the 15 state-approved firms beforehand, it would have been C.B. Ferriss. The C.B. Ferriss bid of $220,000 would include appraisal of commercial and industrial properties, assistance to the county through the appeal process, training of the Cherokee County Tax Assesssor staff, and continual reports to the county manager.

Allen stated it was important to train staff, so that the county could save money with an in-house revaluation in the future. Commissioners unanimously awarded the project to C.B. Ferriss.

Captain Mark Patterson, of the Cherokee County Detention Center, presented a capital items request to use revenues in the amount of $279,650 for a number items to be used by the detention center.

Prior to Patterson explaining the request to the board, Eichenbaum stated, “I think this should be tabled to part of the (2018-19 fiscal year) budget discussions, and I also feel it should part of the Sheriff’s Office budget discussions.”

“I think we ought to hear him out and see what the request is,” Commissioner Roy Dickey said.

According to Patterson, the request covers the purchase of two 2018 Chevrolet Tahoes and equipment, a new transport van and equipment, a new transport car and equipment, a road crew truck, a fingerprint machine, a kitchen fryer and steamer, radios, 14 bulletproof vests, 14 Glock pistols and holsters, ammunition, a Fort Knox gun safe, and HVAC units. Patterson also told commissioners the detention center is over its projected revenue of $750,000 for the year and stated by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, revenues should be close to $1.2 million.

When the board asked Patterson what were the most critical items within the request, Patterson stated the fingerprint machine ($21,000), the bulletproof vests ($8,100), the weapons ($6,800), and the ammunition ($3,300) were the most critical.

“My personal opinion is we ought to do it all tonight,” Dickey said. “We’ve got the revenue here.”

After further discussion, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon then made a request to purchase only those four line items of the request so as to allow more time to research the request further, particularly the vehicle purchases, which accounted for the bulk of the request. After a second from Eichenbaum, the motion failed 2-3 with Eichenbaum and McKinnon voting in favor.

“And I guess we need to state why (the motion failed),” Commissioner Cal Stiles said. “I think maybe we need to look at it more in its entirety … We just keep picking out individual items here, and I think they do need those items.”

After a motion by Dickey to approve the entire request and a second by Commissioner Gary Westmoreland, the request was approved 4-1 with McKinnon voting against.

In his county manager report, Wiggins presented a proposal of the 2018-19 budget to commissioners. According to the recommended proposed budget, the total county budget would be $44,212,558.00, which would include a general fund balance of $38,083,967 and a special revenue fund of $6,128,591. Wiggins stated the county would continue with a budget work session Wednesday, May 30, at 5 p.m. and a public hearing on the budget during the regular commissioners meeting Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m.

Copies of the budget, Wiggins said, will be posted at both libraries in Murphy and Andrews, at the county manager’s office, and on the county website.

Commissioners approved four budget revisions Thursday including a $722,884 budget revision to purchase a new CAT compactor for the county landfill. Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum explained that the county had put aside $578,584 over the past few years in a designated fund in anticipation of the purchase. The compactor, according to County Manager Randy Wiggins, comes with included servicing and a five-year warranty.

A budget revision for $68,295 was also approved for the purchase of new scales for the county landfill. Wiggins explained the current scales at the landfill can no longer be calibrated and the new scales are expected to be installed sometime before the end of June and on a weekend. With the request, an additional amount of $12,500 was approved in the case that the county has to use rental scales while the new scales are being installed.

A budget revision for $16,755 was approved to purchase a used 2014 Dodge Charger for the Sheriff’s Office. Finance Director Candy Anderson explained the vehicle will replace another vehicle that was damaged in a recent chase and the $16,755 is money the county received from insurance claims.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

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Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Early morning raid nabs fugitive

Police & Government

MURPHY, N.C. — Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the April 14, 2018, arrest of Benjamin Lee Stanley, a 39-year-old Topton, North Carolina, man, for domestic violence violations and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Over the past several months, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office had several interactions with Stanley including evading arrest on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Additionally, there were two active warrants for the arrest of Stanley for violation of Domestic Violence Protective Orders. On several occasions, Stanley had evaded arrest including a Friday morning encounter where Stanley led investigators on a chase eventually losing them as Stanley, who was operating a Jeep, took an off-road trail.

During the early morning hours of April 14, 2018, deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division traveled to Stanley’s residence and utilized a search warrant to gain entry. Upon entering the residence, it was discovered that Stanley was again attempting escape by dropping down into the crawlspace of the residence and hiding until discovered by the deputies. Stanley was taken into custody and transported to the Cherokee County Detention Center.

Benjamin Lee Stanley was served with an indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm and was placed on a $15,000 secure bond. Additionally, two domestic violence protective order violation warrants were served on Stanley, in which he was placed on a 48-hour no bond condition. Stanley was also charged with Resist Obstruct and Delay and was placed on a $3,000 secure bond. Stanley is currently being held in the Cherokee County Detention Center.

Sheriff Derrick Palmer stated, “Great work getting Mr. Stanley off the streets. It is obvious he has no regard for the court or the law. This was some outstanding work by the patrol officers who took this issue to heart, planning out a great mission and ensuring no one was hurt. Job Well Done!”

To report suspicious activity and suspect violations of the law, please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Murphy High principal arrested, suspended amid allegations of misconduct

News

MURPHY, N.C. – According to a statement from Cherokee County (N.C.) Schools (CCS) issued Saturday morning, Feb. 10, Thomas Graham, principal of Murphy High School, has been suspended with pay from school duties in response to allegations of misconduct and Graham’s subsequent arrest Thursday, Feb. 8.

In the statement, Graham’s suspension came from CCS Jan. 26. “Mr. Jason Forrister has been acting principal during this time and will continue in that role as long as necessary,” CCS stated.

The statement from the school system continued to say:

“Cherokee County Schools has been working with local and state law enforcement agencies and has fully cooperated with their investigation. Because personnel matters are considered confidential under state law, CCS cannot make any further comment regarding Mr. Graham. Further it is imperative that CCS strive alongside law enforcement agencies to seek the truth and impart fairness to all parties involved … Student safety is the first priority of Cherokee County Schools and CCS takes the appropriate measures necessary to provide a welcoming and safe atmosphere for all students, staff, parents and volunteers. Cherokee County Schools would like to thank the state and local law enforcement officials for the professionalism they have demonstrated thus far. CCS will continue to work with law enforcement throughout the entire process.”

According to CCS, the law requires any suspension taking place during an investigation to be paid.

Graham, 45, was arrested by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Thursday afternoon, Feb. 8, and later released from the Cherokee County Detention Center on a $2,500 bond.

According the booking report from CCSO, Graham is charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a student stemming from incidents occurring in January and February of 2016. Graham is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Murphy March 5, at 9 a.m.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

GEORGIA MEN ARRESTED AFTER HOME INVASION

News

GEORGIA MEN ARRESTED AFTER HOME INVASION

Murphy, NC— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the January 20, 2017 arrest of 20 year old Christian Pelicie-Mederos, 23 year old Selburn Abraham Ridley, 19 year old Monte Terrell Stewart, 19 year old Chevez Jamar Herron, and 23 year old Marquez Deshaun Hall, all who reported Atlanta Georgia addresses, for charges stemming from a home invasion in the Andrews Community on January 19th, 2017.

At about 9:45 pm January 19th, 2017 the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence north of Andrews North Carolina to a report of shots fired. As the responding deputy was arriving in the area the vehicle that had been described containing the individuals that had broken into a residence was found disabled on the roadway. The vehicle was occupied by the five individuals and upon the approach of the responding deputy two of the individuals fled on foot. Two officers with the Andrews Police Department, additional deputies and investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office arrived and all five of the individuals were apprehended. Among the items seized at the scene was firearms, illegal controlled substances and a large amount of U.S. currency.

Pelicie-Medros, Ridley, Stewart, Herron and Hall were all booked into the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office for ROBBERY WITH DANGEROUS WEAPON, ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, FIRST DEGREE BURGLARY, and RESISTING PUBLIC OFFICER. All five are currently housed at the Cherokee County Detention Center under $100,000.00 secure bond. Herron has an additional $100,000.00 secure bond for charges from another incident in Clay County during 2016.

Sheriff Palmer stated “We have not completed our investigation but have some good indication why these individuals were in Cherokee County. We are continuing our investigation and are checking additional leads and information. I want to thank the officers of the Andrews Police Department for their assistance. I would like to remind the public that we appreciate any assistance they can provide but highly discourage any activities that would place them in harm’s way!”

Sheriff Palmer encourages any one that has information on this crime or any other to report it. To report crime in Cherokee County you can call the anonymous tip line at 828-837-1344 or email a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov or call 911 if you observe a crime in progress.

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