Head-On Collision Leaves One Dead

Thursday night, a head-on collision on Raleigh Road near campus left one driver dead.

Chapel Hill Police say the accident took place around 9:39 pm near the intersection of Raleigh Road and Greenwood Road. One vehicle was apparently traveling west in the eastbound lane and ran into another.

One of the drivers was pronounced dead at UNC Hospitals; the other driver was treated for minor injuries at the scene and released.

Officials have not yet released the names of the individuals involved. The police investigation is ongoing; WCHL will provide additional information as we receive it.


UNC Football Hosts Chapel Hill Police for the Day

Practicing inside Kenan Stadium on Monday for the first time during this year’s training camp, the UNC football team welcomed a group of close to 70 Chapel Hill police officers and their families to watch the proceedings.

Afterwards, the team sat down with their guests for lunch in the Blue Zone–in an effort to create discussion around one of today’s most pressing social issues.

Although there were a small handful of Tar Heels who ran into minor legal issues last fall—and many other falls before that—this gathering was centered on the much more serious issues that have plagued the entire country over the past couple years.

The rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement–and the increase in the amount of videos showing officers shooting and killing unarmed citizens–has nearly driven the tension between civilians and police to a breaking point.

Because of that, UNC head coach Larry Fedora wishes this wasn’t the first time he came up with the idea to help open a dialogue with his players.

“I really kicked myself in the butt for not being more proactive and doing something like this years ago,” Fedora said. “I mean, it just makes sense.”

When talking with his team about the issue, Fedora has mainly focused on the fact that police officers are human beings capable of making mistakes just like anyone else.

It’s a message that should especially resonate with these high-level athletes. After all, they often run into a similar issue where media and fans forget that they’re just regular people because of what their job is.

“I think it’s just something very, very small that we can do to build that relationship—and to continue to make sure our guys understand what they’re all about,” Fedora said. “And I want them to understand who we are.”

Senior cornerback Des Lawrence–a team leader who was once suspended for a game in 2014 for participating in a hazing incident–said he sees the opportunity to meet and speak with the officers as a chance to make sure both viewpoints can be heard.

“They get to show people that they’re not the bad guys,” Lawrence said. “Not all officers are bad. And that’s one thing I’ve understood.

“While there’s a crisis going on, you can’t blame every officer,” he continued. “Just like you can’t blame every person who doesn’t listen to the officer’s orders or who doesn’t want to because they feel wrongfully accused.

“So [this lunch] is a good medium where both sides can come together.”

Lawrence also spoke at length about how Fedora tells his team to treat police officers with respect should an incident occur off the field—whether something happens this year or 20 years down the road.

While the coach is obviously doing a great deed by giving cops the recognition they deserve, it was yet another example of how he’s attempting to build constructive relationships with his players that last far beyond the time that they’re in college.

“We’re about building these young men into full-grown men so they can be successful in whatever they do in life—after football,” Fedora said. “It’s after football that I’m most concerned with.

“These guys that are playing for us in the NFL right now—all I’m worried about is what happens to them after football’s over with.”



Traffic Data Shows Link Between Race and Police Searches

North Carolina was the first state in the country to require traffic stop records. Any time a car was pulled over, the officer filled out a report. Now with 13 years worth of data, the trends hold answers to questions about racial profiling in policing.

UNC political scientist Frank Baumgartner has been studying the data for years, and said there’s an undeniable link between people of color and car searches.

“The striking numbers are that if you’re a young Hispanic or a young African American male, in the situation that you get pulled over, you’re much more likely to be searched than anyone else in the population,” Baumgartner said.

Age and gender were also reflected in the data.

“A young white male is also more likely to be searched than a female or an older person,” Baumgartner.

Frank Baumgartner discussed his findings with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


Baumgartner is trying to answer the question why cars pulled over for minor offenses, like expired tabs or broken headlights, are more likely to be searched.

“It might be that the officer wants to search that car because they have a visual cue that they may be involved in drugs or something. So the officer first decides that he wants to search the car and then finds a way to pull that car over.”

But this type of policing walks the line of racial profiling – especially in certain areas of town. ‘Policing by place’ is a tactic that patrols high crime areas more aggressively – something that Baumgartner says also highlights racial inequities.

“If you live in a neighborhood that is not one of those crime hot-spots, that’s a relatively nice neighborhood, the policing is a lot more soft touch. And those neighborhood distinctions tend to be correlated with race. So there really is a different style of policing depending on who you are and where you live.”

If a white driver is pulled over, there is a two percent chance that their car will be searched, Baumgartner said, but a four percent chance for a person of color. From 2002 to 2015, over 20 million recorded police observations show that these racial profiling trends are not improving.

“Rather than being steady or decreasing, they’ve actually been steadily increasing so that by 2013 they were 150 percent more likely,” Baumgartner said.  “So it’s moving in the wrong direction.”

This trend also follows the ‘contraband hit rate’ which refers to the likelihood that a search leads to finding drugs, weapons or some other form of contraband. Even though racially profiled searches have increased, Baumgartner said the contraband hit rate has not.

“The contraband hit rate has not changed, so there’s an increased targeting over time of minority drivers.”

To try and prevent racially profiled searches without probable cause, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and other cities have instituted a written consent form. Previously, when officers asked for permission to search cars, community members said they felt intimidated by the question. Baumgartner said a written consent form seeks to give people the choice to opt out of searches.

“If the officer does not have probable cause, he has to conduct what’s called a consent search, and that might be an area where there is a likelihood of bias. So one solution is to not only have the officer ask for your permission, but to have you sign a waiver that explicitly recognizes that you have the right to say no. And when that happened, the number of consent searches decline precipitously.”

Baumgartner said he worries these trends will alienate certain demographics of the community and weaken their trust in law enforcement

“I think we are alienating a lot of young men. And a lot of older men and members of minority communities are accustomed to the idea that they may have been pulled over for reasons that they cant really get their head around.”

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said that he’s using the data to improve his force’s policing methods. He says he supports the open data policy and hopes it will help the community understand their work.

“I think the overall message is that we’re doing our community’s work, so the more information that we can put out about what we are doing on your behalf, it is your information we are your employees, we want to continue to create more and more opportunities for that information to be out there,” Blue said.

Chief Blue also said he hopes to offer clarification about any concerning trends and hopes that by monitoring his team’s work, they can find ways to improve.

“It’s that old idea that you can expect what you inspect, coupled with some real reflection about what’s the thinking behind your decision.”



Chapel Hill Experiencing String of Second Story Break-Ins

Chapel Hill has been faced with a string of home break-ins recently, with the thieves entering on the second story, according to Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore.

“Folks are breaking in through second story windows, primarily through unlocked second story windows and it looks like they are using lawn furniture or patio furniture to get to a part of the roof that gives them access to second story windows,” said Mecimore.

Mecimore said most of the break-ins have occurred near the Sweeten Creek area by East Chapel Hill High School and have happened during the day, while residents were at work. The break-ins are also taking advantage of the alarm systems in people’s homes.

“Typically alarm systems, or a lot of alarm systems at least, don’t cover the second story and so once someone is in, it seems that as long as they don’t go downstairs they are not setting off the alarm,” said Mecimore.

The police department recommends locking all your doors and windows when you leave the house and before you go to bed and to also make your home looks occupied when you’re away by putting your lights and television on a timer.

Police also advise not keeping any spare keys outside of the house and to consider getting an alarm system if you do not already have one.

“The goal for each person should be to make their houses as undesirable to someone who might break-in as they can,” said Mecimore.

No arrests have been made in connection with the break-ins but Mecimore said police are still investigating.


Chapel Hill Police Prepare for Final Four Celebrations

Excitement is building around the state of North Carolina, and especially in Chapel Hill, as fans are awaiting the tip off of Syracuse and North Carolina in the Final Four in Houston on Saturday night.

While the game is going on in Texas, many revelers – from Chapel Hill and beyond – will set up a satellite watch party on Franklin Street to cheer on the Tar Heels.

That large crowd means a big job is in store for the Chapel Hill Police Department.

“When we talk about planning for a Final Four weekend, we equate it to working two Halloween-scale events in the course of 48 hours,” Chapel Hill Police chief Chris Blue says recalling the annual massive migration to Chapel Hill in late October.

Blue adds the department is fortunate to have a template in place for working these large events but concedes “the intensity level goes up when you’re doing two of them back-to-back.”

Blue says that police are taking precautions ahead of Saturday night’s matchup between the Tar Heels and the Orange, although a potential celebration of a national championship would likely draw a much larger crowd.

“We do work very hard to protect our neighborhoods immediately adjacent to downtown,” Blue says. “There’ll be parking monitors trying to keep those neighborhoods from having visitors taking up the resident parking.”

Blue adds that, while he expects plenty of revelers to come in from outside of Chapel Hill, this type of celebration is “an event that is most-easily attended by people who are already here in the community.”

Blue says that events where thousands of residents and visitors are going to be in one confined space “always makes us nervous” from a public safety standpoint, but he adds “they generally go so well and our attendees are so respectful and well-behaved, for lack of a better term.”

Blue said that a major concern for police and other emergency responders is bonfires being set on Franklin Street. Blue asked that those coming to celebrate refrain from starting those fires and cooperate with law enforcement for a smooth evening.


UNC Geography Professor Arrested: Marijuana

Chapel Hill Police have arrested a UNC geography professor for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and distribute.

Aaron Moody is the geography department’s Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies. He was arrested without incident around eight o’clock Friday night.

Moody faces five charges, including two felonies: possession with intent to sell and distribute and maintaining a vehicle for using, storing and selling controlled substances. According to the police report, officers seized about 26 grams of marijuana from his Honda Odyssey.

Moody’s first court appearance was scheduled for Tuesday, but it has now been continued until March 11. He’s also been charged with three misdemeanors: possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and displaying a fictitious vehicle tag.

UNC officials could not comment on his employment status at this time.


Chapel Hill Police in Need of Blanket Donations

The Chapel Hill Police Department is asking for donations of unused blankets. The police department keeps a stock of blankets year-round but they are needed the most during the winter months.

“It’s basically anyone that is in need of warmth and we can provide those blankets to them,” said Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore.

The blankets are not only for the homeless but can also help someone stranded in a car accident or who cannot afford to heat their house completely.

“We certainly get a great sense of pride for providing [blankets] to people who need it,” said Mecimore. “They benefit from getting the warmth and we get the opportunity to share hopefully with the community in that sense of the pride that they might get by helping us.”

In addition to blankets, police are also collecting unused stuffed animals for children in difficult situations.

“We will take whatever we can get because they will eventually be used. We know the need will always be there and we will always be working to fill that need, so that’s why we are asking folks to help out,” said Mecimore.

You can bring unopened blankets to the Chapel Hill Police Department at 828 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.


22-Year-Old Arrested in Shooting of Infant in Chapel Hill

***UPDATE: Davis made his first court appearance on Monday afternoon. His bond was held at $650,000, and he was ordered to have no contact with the victim’s family or to possess a firearm. Chief District Judge Joe Buckner appointed the public defender’s office to defend Davis. Davis is due back in court on January 4.***

22-year-old Shaquille Oneill Davis was arrested in Durham on Sunday in connection with the Christmas Day shooting that left a one-year-old in critical condition.

Chapel Hill Police responded to a reported shooting at 5:43 on Christmas evening in the area of 751 Trinity Court and found one-year-old Maleah Williams at the scene suffering from a gunshot wound.

Shaquille Oneill Davis. Photo via Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Shaquille Oneill Davis. Photo via Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Police say the shots had been fired from a vehicle leaving the complex.

Williams was transported to UNC Hospitals, where she is in critical condition as of last update.

Davis was arrested at 11:50 on Sunday morning by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force, according to police. Authorities say law enforcement was conducting surveillance in the 3500 block of Century Oaks Road in Durham and saw Davis getting into a vehicle. He was then taken into custody without further incident, according to police.

Davis was charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

Davis is being held in the Orange County Jail under a $650,000 secured bond.

Davis is scheduled to appear in court on Monday afternoon.

A gofundme page has been set up to help assist with medical expenses.

The Town of Chapel Hill is offering resources as well. Residents who need crisis support should call the Chapel Hill Police Crisis Unit at (919) 968-2806.  The Town of Chapel Hill Housing and Police Departments will co-host a community meeting later this week for those who are seeking support in the wake of this tragic event.

Mayor Pam Hemminger issued the following statement concerning the shooting:

“Our hearts are grieving over this horrible tragedy, the shooting of an innocent child. My thoughts and prayers are with Maleah’s mother and father, her family and neighbors. We are all praying for her recovery, although we know, sadly, that their lives are forever changed.

Home. Family. Safety. We have a right to demand this as a community. Over this holiday time, I know that citizens of Chapel Hill share my sense of sorrow and outrage. This is a time to come together and speak out against gun violence. Our community should be a safe and peaceful place for everyone. We need greater gun control measures now that will reduce the availability of guns here and everywhere.

I would like to thank our Police Department that has been working throughout the weekend to apprehend the shooting suspect, who has been arrested and is in custody.”



Police Make Arrest In July Sexual Assault Case

Local police on Wednesday made an arrest in a sexual assault case dating back to July.

Chapel Hill police had been looking for 26-year-old David Michael Edwards, Jr., for several weeks. On September 29, they issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of second-degree rape.

Wednesday at 6:00 pm, authorities finally caught up with Edwards coming out of a building at 300 East Main Street in Carrboro. He was taken into custody without incident; he’s currently being held in Orange County Jail.

The reported assault took place on July 11, downtown near 100 East Franklin Street. The female victim was transported to UNC Hospitals.


Pedestrian Struck in Hit and Run

Chapel Hill Police are seeking information from the public after a vehicle fled the scene after striking a pedestrian on Thursday evening.

A tweet was sent from the Chapel Hill Police Department account just before 4:30 Thursday saying that a pedestrian was struck on Homestead near Weaver Dairy. The account reports a brown sedan driven by a black male struck the pedestrian and fled before authorities arrived.

If you have any information regarding the accident or the sedan, you are asked to contact Chapel Hill Police.

Authorities say the pedestrian was hospitalized with broken bones.

The victim, 79-year-old Guo Qi Zheng, later died from injuries sustained in the hit and run.