Cops suspended for mishandling confiscated gun parts

What does it take for a cop to get suspended? Well, in the notoriously bad Durham, NC police department (the one which has raised ignoring city crime while hazing Duke students to an art form) it takes salvaging parts from confiscated guns, which courts in the liberal, pointy end of North Carolina once ruled had to be destroyed.

It was widely accepted practice in the past, but it’s now a no-no, so an armorer and six officers including two sergeants, a lieutenant, and a captain, have caught suspensions — without pay.

DURHAM (WTVD) — Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez addressed an internal investigation involving several of his officers, some of them high ranking, Friday morning.

ABC11 first learned about the investigation in February. Both current and former employees connected to the department, but not directly involved in the investigation, alleged several officers had sold seized weapons on a popular firearms website frequented by the law enforcement community.

But Lopez said Friday there is no evidence guns or gun parts were sold. He said the investigation did find that department employees and officers kept some gun parts for use on their department-issued and personal weapons.

Lopez said while such activity had been permitted in the past, it is now in violation of a court order that states seized weapons must be destroyed. Lopez said the officers apparently acted with a genuine belief their actions were appropriate, but they should have known the rules.

“I expect this lapse of judgment to be isolated,” he said.

Lopez said 11 employees were investigated and seven now face disciplinary action ranging from reprimands to suspensions based on their level of involvement and rank:

Capt. Kevin Cates – suspended
Lt. George Zeipekkis – suspended
Sgt. Nicholas Schneider – suspended
Sgt. Joseph Piatt – suspended
Officer Christopher Wiesemann – suspended
Reserve Officer William Evans –  written reprimand/suspension from off-duty work for one month
Robert Rowley, Armorer – suspended

via Durham police officers punished for gun parts use | abc11.com.

According to further reporting at another station, WRAL, the suspensions were for various lengths of time, Cates’s for two duty weeks, 80 hours. (That’ll leave a mark on his bank account). And it turns out that the ABC 11 statement above misstates why the gun parts were not supposed to be taken. It was not because the courts ordered the guns destroyed, but because after that court ruling, a new law in NC overrode that decision, requiring jurisdictions, even liberal and anti-gun ones like Durham’s, to sell serviceable and legal firearms rather than destroy or keep them.

The officers brought back the parts that they had taken during the course of the investigation. Also, Lopez said that his cops thought they were following the law, as they understood it: the suspensions are for being wrong. 

“While the officers had a genuine belief that their actions were appropriate, that belief was mistaken,” he wrote. “I expect better judgment from my officers, especially those in supervisory positions. All involved are otherwise excellent veteran officers and staff with no history of significant disciplinary issues. I expect this lack of judgment to be isolated.”

It seems like a rather stiff punishment for errors that are ultimately no harm, no foul.

But an unhealthy PD rots from the head. A Durham detective named Mark Gottlieb was a key participant in the attempted framing of 6 Duke students for rape, and never was disciplined. He retired with full benefits — reportedly with a tax-free disability retirement — and now owns a lawn care company, which seems a bit physical for a disabled guy.

And there apparently are resentments aplenty inside the department — these guys were caught because a fellow cop ratted them out. Must be a fun place to work!

12 thoughts on “Cops suspended for mishandling confiscated gun parts

  1. "Greg"

    Wow. I say “wow” because for a brief period of my life, I was a Durham Police Officer (no joke, for real!) Years ago, though. At the time of my brief employment, Kevin Cates was a Sergeant, I knew him briefly through some of the training classes that were taught at “rookie school” so for something VERY close to my heart, I take GREAT interest in this particular posting!

    So my first interest would be how you arrived at the judgement that Durham PD is NOTORIOUSLY bad? (and I must emphasize I am not trying to insist that Durham PD is exemplarily good, either! I’m just curious to hear what you are basing that judgement on?)

    You mention the rape/harrassment of 6 Duke students – I think I am recalling the same incident, which was in 2006 & involved lacrosse players? (also AFTER my employment with that PD had ended!) But I have to ask – how much NON-media information did you have access to? And I base my conclusion on the short time that I worked there, but that basically many Duke students think they are above the law because so many of them are spoiled rich kids, but then on the other hand, many of the adult entertainment professionals of Durham also fall WAY short of the minimum standards of being a decent citizen and the poor unfortunate Durham Police are caught in the middle of the whole bruhaha, but really, I suppose I am ASSuming way WAY WAY too much about something I don’t have ANY ACTUAL facts about? :-)

    I personally think MOST of the officers that I worked with were decent enough, but no one can reasonably deny that department has many imperfections (and perhaps there is a lot that has changed in the years since I was briefly employed there?) During training I was shocked to hear that back in the 80’s, in Durham, if you wanted the best quality drugs, there were certain DPD officers who would provide that to you, as well as an eventual DEA sting that resulted in the arrest of DPD’s ENTIRE narcotics unit… but for the relatively small size of the DPD, we are talking about a grand total of FOUR officers!

    I guess I will post with a closing comment – DPD was my first police job, in my 2nd police job, I happened to find myself chatting with a DPD transit officer, and I was shocked during that conversation for that DPD officer to tell me: “You might not think so right now, but ending your employment with Durham was the best thing that could have happened to you!” …i still don’t know that I fully agree with him, but he made that comment with so much conviction in his voice that I at least I partially agree with him…

    Yeah… so for being an actual past employee, for my short time I worked there, I would say it was a fun place to work, maybe in time my opinion would have changed? I guess the main thing here is my surprise to see Durham PD to be mentioned HERE on WEAPONSMAN!!

    1. Hognose Post author

      Damn, it’s a small world.

      Actually, most of the media swallowed the line that since-disgraced DA Mike Nifong and his since-disgraced-for-other-misconduct deputy Tracy Cline and Mark Gottlieb were putting out. The News & Observer, the local Durham rag (forget its name), and the occasional out of state guy who parachutes in for a story (for a while it was a New York Times front-page story, until the prosecution was exposed as bogus.

      I am sure there are plenty of students who are spoiled rich kids, and these guys were not rocket surgeons (hey, let’s get a drugged up stripper from some low-rent place to dance at our frat! What could possibly go wrong?) but there was a concerted effort by about a dozen people to frame them for a rape that literally did not occur.

      Even the president of the university, a crumb named Brodhead, joined in. When he was a dean a Yale he tried to frame a prof he didn’t like for a homicide of a student (she was killed, almost certainly, by some of the vibrant diversity in New Haven that Yale is embedded in).

      Anyway, the best source of information was a history professor who blogged the whole thing, and he had a lot of background on the DPD and it was not good. Funny thing is, he was a New York prof with no connection to Duke or Durham at all. His name is KC Johnson and he wrote a book about the whole lacrosse fiasco. It’s still going on, you can goog up his blog, called Durham In Wonderland.

      (ETA the link)

      1. "Greg"

        Wow again… and a bit of a trip down memory lane! I think now a big part of my curiosity was to hear the various perspectives on the situation (yours and anyone else that might chime in) mainly because it was something that I have such a close connection to. I was in San Diego in March 2006, so I recall being surprised to being hearing about a case happening on the opposite side of the country. I recall now that I was not surprised when I heard that the accusation turned out to be false. And now that I think about it, the situation reminds me somewhat of George Zimmerman’s case – such that prosecutors who thought they had a “racial card home run” ended up with the joke being on them?

        On a slightly related note – Crystal Mangum (the stripper) was recently convicted of murdering her boyfriend, I copy & paste this link: http://www.crimelibrary.com/blog/2013/12/01/duke-lacrosse-stripper-convicted-of-murder/index.html

        (forgive me for not attempting to properly HTML link that URL) and most surprising to me (if I read the link correctly) she stabbed him once?? quote –> Although the knife wound in Daye’s chest pierced several organs – including his lung, colon, stomach and a kidney I grabbed a knife and I poked him in the side <– end quote

        How is THAT even possible??? (with only ONE stab wound)

        1. Hognose Post author

          In most any healthy department the accusations would have been 86d before the write-up began. For one thing, as Johnson points out, Mangum not only changed her story many times, she never told the same story twice.

          I have always wondered if some Duke princeling did something to Gottlieb and got away with it, and his karma came back on the LAX frat boys.

          Still, there’s a reason that the term “frat boy” does not conjure images of mature reliability. Most stereotypes contain a sandy grain of truth beneath the pearls of mythic accretion.

          And there’s a reason that the pole-dancer-American community should not be one’s first stop when seeking a long-term relationship (it’s called “bat-guano crazy”).

          The only one who suffered for it, apart from the accused, was Nifong. And he didn’t suffer until quite a long time had passed; at first, he gained, because his story was compelling to the combination of minorities and university liberals that make up the Durham electorate, and they all thrilled to see the Great White Defendants (gratuitous Tom Wolfe reference) in the dock.

          Some assclown has a book out now arguing the case entirely from Nifong’s point of view, and he didn’t even interview anyone else, just reported what Nifong, disbarred and embittered, says about them. Naturally, the assclown got starred reviews for this bullshit book from Literary Review, Kirkus, etc. and has been reviewed positively in most media (the N&O slammed it, and somebody sensibly hired Johnson to review it, and he eviscerated it), and the guy is on all the talk shows talking about how Mike Nifong wuz framed by The Man. Hell’s bells, Nifong was The Man.

          Still, someone in DPD should have called bullshit on that prosecution, and it makes everybody wonder how ate-up are their prosecutions of poor black guys who don’t have parents who can mortgage a house to pay lawyers. (None of the LAX yout’s were what I would call rich, but they were a lot better off than the average defendant who has to take pot luck from the public defender. The only real defense those guys have are ethical cops that do not charge innocent men).

        2. Hognose Post author

          Re: that Crime Library link. Comedy gold in a kind of dark way.

          Daye admitted he broke down the bathroom door and dragged Mangum out by her hair in an unconventional attempt to calm her down. Instead Mangum became enraged….

          Yeah, that’s how I always calm down a woman throwing a wobbler. Worked for my homo sapiens neanderthalensis ancestors….

    1. StukaPilot

      ok I got through it finally. Then hit “Mark Gottlieb now owns a lawn care Co. …” and erupted again: LLLLLLOOOOLLLLL! Perhaps Jose Lopez, upon retirement, can work part-time for Gottlieb’s Lawn Care Co. Along with the rest of the mestizo illegals.

      1. StukaPilot

        durhaminwonderland indeed a great site. Awhile back I had occasion to look through the UNC/Durham Press book catalog. Mostly the usual Marxist gibberish posing as social science…plus an astounding # of feminista “gender studies” – i.e. campus lezzie networking – tracts.

  2. Andy

    Wonder why the BATFE hasn’t been involved in this Investagation , is it because it is a fellow law enforcement agency , or maybe because minorities are involved , oh that’s right cops are actually above the law . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

    1. "Greg"

      I can’t speak for the ENTIRE country, but I disagree with your blanket statement that “cops are actually above the law” and don’t forget that there are many sheeple in this country that are happy to hold onto the false sense of security that they have from protection from the wolves. The quality of law enforcement varies greatly throughout the nation – in some places, there are cops who indeed get away with murder, but in others, there are cops who go to jail for exactly the same reasons as John Q. Public. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of reasons to be prepared and ready & to keep your powder dry!

  3. AndyN

    It seems like a rather stiff punishment for errors that are ultimately no harm, no foul.

    Let me know if I’m missing something here. Without permission, several people took property – specifically gun parts – that belonged to the government. There’s no indication that they intended to return that property. The property was only returned because they were reported by a police officer. The worst punishment any of them will receive is a couple weeks off without pay.

    If I get caught helping myself to government owned gun parts in Durham, NC, can I just pay a fine equivalent to at most 80 hours of police salary and walk away free with no criminal record? I’ll take that deal, and not even complain about how stiff the punishment is.

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