While the Town of Weaverville generally does not publish information regarding traffic stops or other infractions addressed by the Weaverville Police Department, we do reserve the right to correct misstatements made to the media. Not publishing corrections to ill-informed media reports is unfair to the citizens of Weaverville and the Town’s officers and has the potential to erode the public trust in law enforcement and local government in general.
On December 6, 2018, the Weaverville Tribune printed an article with the headline reading, “Officer draws weapon on local resident during stop”. In the article, the author, Benjamin Cohn, illustrates the events of a traffic stop in the rainy, early morning hours of November 24, 2018 when a Weaverville police officer stopped a Barnardsville resident in Weaverville town limits for operating a motor vehicle with a revoked tag and registration. The event, as published by the Tribune, seems to be written in such a way as to sensationalize a traffic stop by stating that the officer unholstered and pointed his service weapon at the subject while shouting profanities. Unfortunately, the statements published by the Tribune do not address the fact that the officer did not unholster, present or draw his weapon at any point during the stop, even after the subject exited his vehicle and ran, in the roadway, toward the patrol vehicle occupied by the officer. An internal review involving multiple independent viewings of dashboard camera footage corroborate the officer’s statements that he did not unholster or draw his service weapon, nor did he shout profanities at the subject. While the dashboard camera footage clearly supports the Officer’s statements and conduct during the traffic stop, North Carolina statutes prohibit the disclosure or release of the recording to the general public.
Misstatements made by the claimant are littered throughout the article, which was not a fair and complete representation of the events that occurred during this incident. With journalistic integrity in mind, it is my hope that the Weaverville Tribune will re-examine its reporting on this incident and take better steps in the future to ensure that corroborated facts are reported so that misleading information is not reported to our public.
Statement by: Selena Coffey, Town Manager, Town of Weaverville