ONLY ON 3: Deputy under investigation after blocking handicapped parking space

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Submitted: Thu, 05/23/2013 - 3:45am
Updated: Thu, 05/23/2013 - 4:10pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Add the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office to the list of local law enforcement agencies in the spotlight because of an officer’s alleged bad behavior.

The actions of one deputy may have given the entire department a black eye. A disabled WWAY viewer claims a New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy intentionally blocked his handicapped spot in the parking lot of a Wilmington business.

The viewer, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he was heading to his daily workout at Planet Fitness on N. Kerr Ave. Tuesday. When he went to pull into a handicapped parking spot, he says a New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy cut him off and parked in a no-parking zone right next to the space, which kept him from being able to use it.

He later confronted the man inside the gym.

“I approached this individual and said, ‘Do you realize that you’re parked illegally?’ And this individual’s reply was that he was a cop,” the man said. “I think that police should be of higher moral fabric than that.”

The man is legally handicapped after having his leg severed and reattached following an automobile accident. He is not supposed to walk more than 300 feet at a time, though he admits he tries to avoid the handicapped parking spot.

He claims the issue here is not with the spot, but what else the officer could be getting away with.

“If this officer will take a handicapped stall and abuse his power in that manner, what other liberties might he be taking?” he said.

WWAY contacted the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, which says actions like this won’t be tolerated.

“The sheriff has been made aware of it, and he is very concerned about it and has asked for an internal investigation into the situation,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cpl. Jason Augst said.

The Sheriff’s Office has not yet identified the deputy involved citing personnel issues.

The victim says he is hopeful the officer will be disciplined for his actions, and that at the minimum he should have to face a fine.


  • Seriously says:

    Whether the guy needed the space is irrelevant. There is no excuse for the piggy’s poor lazy choice for parking. It is more disturbing that the cop felt entitled to use it. I don’t care if there wasn’t a handicapped person there for hours, piggy should know right from wrong. I am pretty sure he slept through the training video on illegal parking.

  • Vog46 says:

    “I have seen it firsthand. These departments need to quit being so laid back and react to these “little “problems ASAP.”
    Uh hey did react. since this is a personnel issue we’ll probably never know just what was done but at some point we have to take the word of someone in authority at the Sheriffs office. “You know firsthand”? How? In today’s world of dashboard cams, cell phones taking movies and pictures and being able to produce them, for the whole world to see immediately on You Tube one would have to assume that LEO’s are cognizant of how they are perceived.

    “Do you know what the window pane approach is? It means all things are important and should be dealt with or your entire department will back slide.”
    Or your entire department will back slide? Assumptive argument there Troy – one that cannot be made here. This is a first as far as I know. Sure the Sheriff was arrogant if, IF he said what the did to this man. I don’t know either man but this boils down to a “he said she said” argument. While I respect LEOs I will not give him the benefit of the doubt here. I will however give the department that benefit.

    ” When officers get away with these type infractions there are a majority of officers that want them to be punished, and when it doesn’t happen they get a don’t give a ____ attitude, and that is when the whole department is in jeopardy.”
    What punishment is appropriate? Letter of reprimand in his file – we’ll NEVER know if it was done nor would the other officers. If the department is in jeopardy because of this “non-available knowledge” then we have far bigger problems. In this case NONE of his fellow officers would know if he was punished, or what that punishment might be.
    He was wrong and I TRUST it was handled according to department and county policy – affecting one employee.
    Do not make this into something it’s not, please


  • renoGuest says:

    The last thing i want is some ass LEO show up 20 minutes after the crime and tell me what to do. I will call and let you know when you can come make the report. Legend in your own mind there hero?

  • PETERPAN says:

    As I understand it, this particular deputy is a “personal friend” of good ole Sheriff Ed and is openly talking about running for Brian Berger’s commissioner seat. Could this be why Eddie hasn’t released a name yet? Maybe wanting to ensure a vote on the Board of Commissioners? Hummm? Everyone already knows who drives the dark blue unmarked car… Come on news reporters, throw it out there! You can show the car and tag, but not say a name? Chickens!!!

  • I know who you are!! says:

    I know who the deputy is who did this and he always feels like he is always above the law. It is his personality to do this kind of stuff!!! He needs to be punished and finally learn that he needs to go by the same rules that everybody else does!!

  • What? says:

    I saw one sign in the video but I didn’t see the one for the parking spot that the deputy parked in. If you read North Carolina General Statute 20-37.6(d) you will find that for it to be a violation of state law, the sign must have the max penalty on the sign. There are many parking lots that do not have the proper signs. That in itself is a violation of the law. The mark on the pavement is not a valid, enforceable handicapped space. If we are going to be by the book then there was no violation except for the business violating building code and the statute for not having a sufficient amount of PROPERLY marked handicapped spaces. Booooooyaaaaahhhhh

  • Vog46 says:

    I saw the video. The actual parking space was clearly marked and he Sheriff was clearly in the striped line area where handicapped people COULD off load from their vans.
    OK – he was wrong.
    Now if, IF this guy’s rendition is correct, and that the Sheriff used the “I’m a cop” line the the Sheriff is even more WRONG.
    But….that by no means implies a continuing problem of “superiority complex” by the NH County Sheriffs Department. Hate to say it, but it doesn’t.
    It’s an isolated case of employee stupidity – it’s not a fire-able offense IMHO, and to me anyway it doe NOT give the ENTIRE department a black eye.
    Just this one particular guy.
    If he’s THAT dumb he should consider running for public office.
    I think he just made an error in judgement……..


  • windy says:

    One must wonder how badly, if at all, this guy needed the handicapped parking spot in the first place…. If he’s able to work out, then parking a couple spaces farther away should not be a problem. As for the cop, he should uphold the same parking regulations that he enforces. Enough said.

  • KrisC says:

    Some people are in pain or sick on the inside while seemingly appearing healthy on the outside. Invisible illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, heart and lung disease, and other conditions qualify for handicap placards.

    That said, I’ve seen young people park in handicapped designated spaces. JUMP out of their vehicle with their kids, hustle into a store and come back with something heavy they didn’t want to carry very far. They think because another family member qualifies for the placard, its presence on the car gives them a license to use it. They are selfish and cruel to deprive someone who really needs the space. There are a lot of people like that these days who are all about themselves and nobody else. The cop knew better. He just thought he could get away with it.

  • Guest4572 says:

    is an ASS, and you have to ask yourself if you really want that guy carrying a gun. Get rid of him and any other “cop” who thinks being sworn to serve means above the laws we mear citizens have to obey under penalty of law

  • GuestDOG says:

    Once again, a government employee has failed to show good customer service. How stupid can the deputy be to park anywhere close to the handicap space? Guess they were texting and did not realize they had parked the car.
    Sheriff, take the appropriate actions and discipline the employee promptly and to some degree of weight. There needs to be an example set for the others who drive unmarked cars and disregard the laws. I used to drive one and was punished for parking in a no parking zone to make a phone call(we did have to use payphones then).
    SO, Mr. or Ms. Deputy fess up, say you are sorry and take your punishment

  • Guestdeputy25 says:

    He is rehabilitating himself after an accident. He is stating that someone else may need it! Could be there to work and could be handicapped. As for the cop, he had a holier than though attitude.regardless, the complainant is making a point that unless you have the correct placard/plate and the person is in the vehicle and plans to exit the vehicle no one else should use it. Now enough said.

  • Guewindywindyhst says:

    Yes, some people who do have handicapped placards do have a medical condition that is not necessarily visible (i.e., heart condition, arthritis, etc.); however, you don’t see these people ready to get their workout on at the local gym, either. So I therefore stand by my original comment … if someone is physically able to work out at the gym, then he or she can walk a couple extra steps from a regular parking space. Leave the handicapped spaces for someone who TRULY needs it.

  • renoGuest says:

    should have let the officer go inside and called * HP on his cell phone
    made a citizen complaint and had the state issue him a citation.

  • Troy says:

    Unfortunately it does give the whole department problems, I have seen it firsthand. These departments need to quit being so laid back and react to these “little “problems ASAP. Do you know what the window pane approach is? It means all things are important and should be dealt with or your entire department will back slide. When officers get away with these type infractions there are a majority of officers that want them to be punished, and when it doesn’t happen they get a don’t give a ____ attitude, and that is when the whole department is in jeopardy.

  • wilmcitizen says:

    Fact 1- There is not a legal Handicap parking spot at that location, Its been moved to the front of the building, No sign in front of the spot, Fact 2- the Deputy was parket next to the OLD hanicap parking spot not in it. Fact 3- The Accusers story has changed several times.Fact 4-The accuser has been caught in several lies about this Deputy. One being he cut the man off trying to get into the OLD Handicap spot. If so the man was traveling the wrong direction, the spots are slanted next to the building, Fact 5- The accuser stated he went inside to speak to the Deputy to tell him he was parked in a handicap spot, and the deputy responded I can iam a cop. The Investigator and Mang. of Planet Fitness viewed the tape of the deputy the whole time he was working out and there was NO man that approched the deputy at any time. SOOOO this deputy has been falsely accused and look how this has run. Shame on this Accuser for trying to make our Law enforecment look bad, He obviously has an Axe to grind against law enforcement and has put this Deputy and the department in a bad light to the public, All I can say is we need to Pray for this Accuser and hope he never does this again.

  • PeterPan says:

    In my opinion, if the average New Hanover County citizen knew even half of the things that have and are still going on at the sheriff’s office, they would be shocked. Since Ed McMahon became sheriff, the place has rapidly declined. McMahon has no business being in this powerful position. Moral is at an all-time low because of his ruling through fear and intimidation. McMahon is a poor leader, who puts on a public façade. Again, in my opinion, he is a very vengeful, hateful, grudge-holding and mean-spirited person. Just don’t get in his way…because the “Good Baptist Deacon” will surely set you up for failure. There are many good people within the sheriff’s office, however; they go along and keep their mouths shut out of fear. It’s no longer a nice place to work…what a shame. Hopefully, some decent soul will run for sheriff next election and clean the place up. McMahon needs to go.

  • ILMProud4356 says:

    It’s funny how many of you on here bash police officers non stop but when your life is in danger, all you want is for them to get there and do their job. They do this proudly with or without your opinions and harsh comments. Our society is definately on the downfall.

  • Cops against the law says:

    The cop should be setting the example for the public not seeing what he can get away with. This is horrifying that someone who doesn’t have the decency to park legally is enforcing laws on others. Obviously he is not a good judge of right and wrong.

  • please stop says:

    Spoken like a true piggy caught in an illegal spot! There is no justification so STOP!!!

  • johnny gee says:

    First off the deputy was not parked in a handicap parking space. The deputy was not parked in a “No Parking Space”, because it has to be posted “No Parking” to be in violation. However the only parking violations in a Private parking lot is Handicap and Fire lane violations and there is not a “No parking violation”. Did the deputy make a bad decision, “Yes”. The other thing is every accused has the right to know there accuser and he refuses and that is a coward. If someone wants to stand up and complain on someone, then he should stand up and be a man and not want to be unknown. Was this really such a big thing to be in the news? This coward is going to cause this deputies bad decision to cause him his job, demotion and or suspension, like they get paid a lot already. I think he should have parked down the lanes and I don’t think he made the right decision, but not news worthy. Johnny G

  • Guest2398384 says:

    Pal? The dude went face-to-face with the cop about his concerns and the cop said, “…derrrrrr duhhhhhh..I’m a cop…duhhhhh…deerrrrrrr…”

    Instead of the cop saying, “I apologize. I’m so sorry. I’ll move my car immediately. I didn’t realize that parking in the voided off space NEXT to the handicap space would hinder you. I’m sorry.”

    But no, because in typical Brunswick/Pender/New Hanover cop fashion. The cop said, “…derrrrrr duhhhhhh..I’m a cop…duhhhh…derrrrr..I really have no moral compass…..derrrr..duhhhh…etc etc”

    Do I really have to drag up more than a dozen examples from the past couple years to prove my point? Cops in this part of the state are an embarrassment to the profession.


  • Guest33435642 says:

    the deputy was parked in a handicapped spot by parking in the area with the striped white lines. Those are considered extensions of the handicapped parking spot for Vans and such with wheel chair ramps etc to have room to operate. See the link below for the actual wording from the NCDOT website. I’ve been in LE for right at 17 years and I’m tired of seeing all the local LEO’s in the news lately for acts of varying stupidity & downright unethical behavior. It’s one crappy story after another. I know that the vast majority of my brothers and sisters in LE are dedicated hard working officers but mess like this makes us all look bad. We took an oath. We’re sworn to uphold the law and set an example for everyone else. The simplest way the deputy could have avoided any issue in this situation would have been to just park in a normal space and walk. Do I think the reporting person is a coward, no, not really. I think he has a right to expect better behavior from those of us sworn to serve and protect. Do I think the deputy should be demoted, suspended or anything, no, I don’t. I think a stern talking to by his superiors would be sufficient. Not just for where he parked but for his response to the citizen who approached him. That’s just my .02……/DMV_Brochure_Handicap_Placard_2010_05.pdf

  • deuty 25 says:

    the deputy is wrong!! period. the striped spaces beside a handicapped spot is for van accessible. the sign should say that. the deputy knew what he was doing and being a “cop” doesn’t matter. he should be written a citation. The picture is proof enough, but i do think the person complaining should come forward as a witness and be reassured that there will be no other problems for him from the dept!!!! if i had seen it, i would have written him a citation myself, you uphold the law no matter who it is. this is a pet peeve of mine and i do not like it when people take advantage of their “position’ or misuse their handicap parking placard/tag either.

  • Du says:

    This is ABSOLUTELY news worthy. Bad government officials who perceive themselves as being above the standards of us common citizens need to be called out, and removed. It is merely a symptom of their flawed thinking/mentality. They are to serve us, period. To think that a handicapped person (who had a severed leg) should “stand up and be a man” is along the same exact line of our upstanding federal officials (see Joe Biden asking a man in a wheelchair to stand up and be noticed). They just don’t get it, and should be asked (or forced) to leave.

  • Troy says:

    First of all the spot is a no parking zone, it is for loading and unloading of handicapped equipment such as wheelchairs, etc., no sign means nothing, no sign is in the middle of an intersection either….. Secondly he was confronted by his accuser, the man walked right up to him and expressed his concerns, to no avail I might add, his answer” I’m a cop” wow. I was in law enforcement for 21 years, and on my department something like this would not have ever happened, we were accountable for our actions. Maybe people don’t get it, but when you have a few officers running around doing irresponsible acts like this then you most likely have a much bigger problem. I am new to the area, but I know when things like this are going on it’s like the tip of the iceberg. I am really surprised that the officer did something like this considering all the problems that are arising with officers getting into trouble recently. Something like this may seem trivial to some, but it sends a clear message to the citizenry of your city that the police are, exhibiting an attitude that they are untouchable, and this attitude comes from only one place, THE TOP.
    P.S. to the cop involved, I hope that there are more police officers on the department than “cops” look up the word cop, no self respecting police officer would ever call themselves that.

  • Charles Walters says:

    Areas that are not marked for parking are not for parking. From the picture I see the Deputy was not in a space marked for parking. Typically handicapped spaces that are van accessable will have a space next to them that is marked this way so the lift can be raised and lowered for a wheelchair. A badge and a gun do not make someone above the law, and I know many find officers and deputies who would go out of their way to not abuse the great power they have. Like all professions you have those few who think they can do what ever they want. I say to them stay right there, and keep thinking that way, and some one will there to get you in a little while.

  • Guest123123 says:

    Ok once again another LEO thinks they are above the law. Should have just moved his vehicle when asked and it would have went away. But no had to tell the citizen he was the police. The other question would be was he conducting an investigation or working out on county time?

  • GB45 says:

    I do not condone this officers decision.However,as far as “working out on company time”…its because it is a requirement of most emergency workers to “work out” ON company time…There are many reasons and legalities why its that way,which alot of people dont understand….Instead of asking why we work out on duty,be glad that we do. The majority of us do it so we can be there when you are in a time of need.

  • dennis mialki says:


  • Guest3210 says:

    Because part of their job is needing to stay fit and healthy in order to perform their duties.

  • Guest98761234 says:

    Do you think that’s bad? I live in Burgaw ( on the northern side of the city limits ), and there’s a New Hanover County Sheriff deputy that drives his squad car all the way out here to his house. It takes a good 30 minutes to get to New Hanover County. Should be illegal.

  • Guest439542395 says:

    Fire him!

  • Guest230984 says:

    Wouldn’t walking a few extra parking spaces distance help with that goal? Kind of like taking the elevator to the gym, isn’t it? As another said, “…derrrrrr duhhhhhh..I’m a cop…duhhhhh…deerrrrrrr…”. That mentality was, and unfortunately still is the case in Leland, as well as the other agencies around here, as shown by this NHC deputy. That fact only comes to light when something like this comes out.

  • Guest10920312 says:

    If that was the case, 80% of the LEO people in this area would actually be in shape. Most are obese to severely obese, especially on the Sheriff’s side.

  • Mom of a pomGuest says:

    A lot of cops go to the gym while on duty!

  • Guest123123 says:

    I was on the job for 17 years and was never told I had to work out on state time. If it is given to you by all means use it, but once again most of us can not work out while we are working. My time of need will be handled by me and me alone. I will give you a buzz when it is time to take the report.

  • Besty_Guesty says:

    I posted this comment with regard to the Onslow deputy involved in a traffic incident in SC but it also applies here:

    “Sheriffs and police chiefs should remind their subordinates that the proliferation of dashboard cameras, smartphone cameras, video cameras in the hands of the citizens that they serve will only increase with time. As a result, so will the ability of citizens to record and publish the actions of the officers. Be safe and act like someone is watching because they might just be not only watching, but recording.”

    Most Law Enforcement Officers work very hard to protect the community and truly have a sense of duty and service that the public may not always appreciate. However, perceptions do matter. When a LEO acts inappropriately, the confidence and support of the public, upon which all LEO’s depend, erodes just a bit.

    In this case, it appears to be simply a lapse in good judgment. In my opinion, it does not rise to the level of a demotion or termination. However, a chat with the Sheriff and a summons (with those delightful court costs) might remind the deputy to exercise better judgment in the future.

    Keep it in perspective and stay safe.

  • renoGuest says:

    public ….”arrreeaaast”

  • Guest987654 says:

    Just wait until the other dirty little secrets get out. If people only knew how corrupted this precious department is. Interoffice affairs, on duty sex-capades behind businesses or in parks during the night, domestic violence, drinking and driving. All the good stuff. But hey, who cares about all that! Unless SHP gets to them, they are all saints who are always above the law and can do no wrong according to the big boys!

  • guesty says:

    Good job there Barney, good public image.

  • Annak says:

    I must say that I was surprised “the viewer” had a legitimate reason for using a handicapped space.

    I have three acquaintances who use handicapped spaces, and they are no more handicapped than Michael Jordan.

    The public is getting sick of the number of “handicapped” pretenders who are abusing the system. I imagine at least half of all people parked in handicapped spaces would be better off parking further from store entrance to allow them to get a little exercise, since many are also overweight.

  • BetterWatchOut says:

    Hey you all that are here dissin’ the LEO, you better watch out before KM on the forum jumps in and gets you all told! (sarcasm intended)

  • Guest1948 says:

    So true, annak. If you want to see people abusing handicap spaces just go to Food Lion on 17th St. Not only that but they park in the fire lane with music blaring, blocking the entrance and exits to the store so that handicapped people have to struggle to get around their vehicles. Don’t bother calling the cops – a waste of time. I’ve often seen uniformed officers at the front of the store and if you complain – they just smile. So much for Wilmington’s “finest.”

  • guesty says:

    Unless it is an police officer that happened to stop by the store, the uniformed “officers” you see at that Food Lion are private security guards, not police.

  • anne says:

    Really? Here in Brunswick County I see this stuff all the time. I don’t think there is a member of the sheriff’s dept that knows what a speed limit is. I see them passing in the center lane on 179 all the time. I have seen them drive foolishly while responding to an accident and have seen them park in places they shouldn’t.

    Not all are bad, but the ones that are make the rest look bad

  • Guest123454 says:

    that is nothing, there is a Caswell beach cop driving his squad car back and forth to Holden beach everyday

  • Guest2020 says:

    It is a common practice for officers to drive their cars home regardless of where they live. When I lived in Shallotte we had a State Trooper, a Deputy, a Shallotte officer, a Holden Beach officer and a Sunset Beach officer who lived in our neighborhood. It’s not really that big of a deal and they do it to have more of a presence and that provides a level of safety to those around them.

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