Sanford, NC- An investigator has accused Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter of having him arrested by deputies in response to trying to serve the sheriff with a subpoena, according to The Sanford Herald.
Robert Terry Wade, 71, stated in an affidavit that approximately two weeks ago he was attempting to serve Carter with a subpoena to appear in an upcoming trial stemming from a civil suit filed against Lee County and the sheriff’s department. The lawsuit, filed by Steven “Wayne” Thomas in 2010, accused Lee County deputies of using a stun gun on Thomas multiple times and breaking his jaw as he was being arrested.
According to ABC11, Wade had first tried to serve subpoenas to Carter and an unknown number of deputies at the sheriff’s department, but he was avoided. Wade said that when he went to Carter’s home to serve the subpoena, no one answered the door.
As he was about to leave, Wade alleges, Carter came outside and blocked Wade’s vehicle until deputies arrived to arrest him. “I tried to leave, but Sheriff Carter came and positioned himself behind my truck and blocked me in so that it was impossible for me to leave without coming into contact with him,” Wade claimed in his affidavit.
Wade was charged with trespassing and carrying a concealed weapon.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle granted a temporary restraining order noting that Carter and other members of the department “are obstructing or otherwise interfering with plaintiff’s efforts to serve subpoenas on potential witnesses in the upcoming trial.” In the order, Boyle stated that “Sheriff Tracy Carter and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office are restrained and enjoined from interfering in any way with [Thomas’s] efforts to serve subpoenas to any witnesses in the upcoming trial.”
“In the environment we live in now where police are under scrutiny for acting out and misbehaving you would think that a sheriff in North Carolina would comply with the law and accept simple service of a piece of paper,” said Kieran Shanahan, Thomas’s attorney.
Shanahan told ABC11 that “I don’t think a federal judge would have done such a thing if he didn’t also share my concern about a sheriff who’s confused between enforcing the law and thinking they are above the law.”
Attorneys for Carter stated in court documents that the sheriff has a “different take” on the incident regarding Wade, and said that subpoenas are supposed to be served to attorneys of defendants.
The upcoming civil trial, scheduled for June 2nd, stems from a lawsuit following a 2009 incident in which Thomas claimed he was assaulted by deputies while they were arresting him. Thomas had allegedly been behaving strangely after working with chemicals in a tobacco field and said that as his friend was driving him to seek medical care, Thomas exited the vehicle and ended up destroying a decorative fence on a woman’s property. When deputies arrived to arrest him, Thomas alleged that they used a stun gun on him at least eight times in under three minutes and broke his jaw while he was on the ground during the altercation.
Carter claimed in response to the suit that Thomas had assaulted deputies during the arrest. “Mr. Thomas assaulted one of my deputies (and) later in the incident, assaulted two more of my deputies. I believe my officers used a reasonable amount of force,” Carter said.