CMPD officer failed to immediately report assault

CMPD officer failed to immediately report assault


by FRED CLASEN-KELLY / The Charlotte Observer

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 11:00 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 25 at 11:41 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Startling new details emerged Monday during a termination hearing for a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer accused of failing to report that an assault victim came to his home for help.

Capt. Chuck Adkins did not alert law enforcement after speaking with a 19-year-old woman who had been kidnapped, handcuffed to a toilet and beaten, according to testimony from CMPD investigators.

The woman worked as a prostitute and was fleeing a pimp in September when she spotted Adkins outside his house and asked to use his phone, officers and attorneys said. She had suffered visible injuries, including facial swelling and marks on her wrists and dried blood, they said.

But instead of calling police, Adkins allowed the woman to use his cell phone to contact a friend for a ride.

CMPD had revealed little about the case before Monday’s hearing.

Civil Service Board hearings are almost always closed, but Adkins has requested an open hearing, which means anyone in the public can attend. It is the first open board hearing since 2007.

Adkins, who last served as a watch commander overseeing police operations on nights or weekends, says he invited the woman inside his home and encouraged her to report the crime. Adkins also has said he took a sleeping pill before the late-night encounter and was groggy.

“This man was nice to her,” said his attorney, Marc Gustafson. “He gave her a phone. That’s what he was supposed to do. He got her to safety.”

But CMPD policy dictates officers report domestic violence when there are signs of physical injury, investigators said.

“This is a very serious matter that goes to the heart of the function of a police officer,” said attorney Bob McDonnell, who is representing the police department.

The case is now part of a federal investigation. Details remain sketchy, but officers testified the Department of Homeland Security has interviewed the woman.

They did not say who the federal probe was targeting or what allegations the Department of Homeland Security were investigating.

Two men have been charged with kidnapping the woman who came to Adkins’ home. Authorities did not divulge their names, ages or other identifying information.

The testimony came during a Civil Service Board termination appeals hearing for Adkins. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police recommended his firing Oct. 12.

Officers can appeal a termination to the Civil Service Board, a group of civilians that reviews disciplinary actions for police and firefighters.

The panel, which can overturn or lessen punishments, plans to listen to testimony Tuesday and Wednesday before going into deliberations.

In addition to failing to immediately report his interaction with a battered woman, CMPD alleges Adkins violated department policy when he took a second job with a private security company.

He had received notice his bosses wanted to fire him, but was still considered a department employee.

Adkins is arguing his actions do not warrant termination. His attorney argued he needed to take the second job to support his family, with his CMPD employment in jeopardy.

The episode started in September when the woman was lured to a Matthews hotel, according to testimony from CMPD.

She was assaulted, kidnapped and taken to a home in northeast Charlotte.

The woman escaped through a window and later approached Adkins as he tinkered in his garage, with his police cruiser parked outside.

He noticed she was bruised. In a brief conversation, the woman told him her boyfriend had beaten her at a house nearby and she had fled. She then used the officer’s cell phone to call a friend for a ride.

The next day, Adkins took his family on beach trip. A day later, he was reading the Observer when he saw a photo of the woman, who was reported missing.

Adkins called the missing persons unit and told them he talked with the woman. He told investigators she had used his cell phone to call for a ride. The investigator dialed that number and made contact with the woman, who was unharmed.

A few days later, the department suspended him.