Veach: I was fired because I’m white

Former detective seeks reinstatement, back pay in tort claim
Adams David calls suit “bogus,” allegations “absolutely ludicrous”

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Previous coverage:
* Dec. 9: Veach files suit against city, former city manager

ROCKINGHAM — A former detective with the Hamlet Police Department claims he was fired because he was white.

In a complaint filed by attorney Michael C. Byrne on Nov. 24 in Richmond County Superior Court, Michael Veach alleges that former City Manager Marchell Adams-David, who is black, engineered his termination of employment because of his race.

HamletIn a tort claim, a copy of which was made public Thursday morning, Veach is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $10,000 — including back pay, front pay, reinstatement and legal fees. Through Byrne, Veach argued in court documents he is entitled to employment without discrimination or abridgment due to race, religious, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap, and that Adams-David and the city of Hamlet violated that right.

Veach said he was wrongfully discharged from his position with the police department in 2012. He believes the court should require the city of Hamlet and Adams-David to be taxed with any post-judgment interest and receive “such additional relief as this court may deem appropriate.”

The complaint argues that Veach performed his duties as a police officer “in a reasonable, competent and satisfactory manner and pursuant to the instruction of his superiors” but was fired in 2012 by Adams-David and the city.

Veach “is informed and believes, and therefore alleges, that (Veach’s) employment termination was engineered by City Manager Dvaid. On information and belief, City Manger David engineered (Veach’s) dismissal and that of at least one other white law enforcement officer with the goal of removing white officers such as (Veach) from the city of Hamlet Police Department and replacing them with black officers, including on information and belief at least one black law enforcement officer with whom City Manager David had a prior personal friendship.”

The black officer is not identified in the complaint.

Early Thursday afternoon, Adams-David called the lawsuit “bogus.”

Marchell Adams-David

Marchell Adams-David

“I, nor do any other city manager that I know, hire staff within departments,” Adams-David wrote in an email to the Post. “A manager’s job is to hire management-level employees (typically department heads (or) high-level supervisors depending upon the structure of the organization). I did not fire or hire Michael Veach. Therefore, it is funny that i have been accused of firing him for a specific reason.”

Adams-David called the racial allegation “absolutely ludicrous.” She said the people who answered directly to her, including people she inherited when she was appointed city manager in 2001 or hired later, “were Caucasian — all of them.”

“During my tenure with Hamlet, I had one African-American department head and that was (police) Chief Robert Bristow. Robert was a department head when I moved up from assistant city manager to city manager. Again, the allegation is laughable in that if you were to ask anyone who ‘really’ knows me, I am about as fair as it gets when it comes to people. Decisions, both personal and professional for me, are not based on race. Never has been, and never will be.”

Adams-David went on to note that “I was raised by good people, and as a product of that raising I value people (the good, the bad and all in between for who they are) and the skills, values (and) experiences they bring to the table — not race. So to be accused of firing him to put someone in of color that I had a personal friendship with is a joke.”

Adams-David said that as best she could recall, there was one male African-American employed with the Hamlet Police Department when she left the city of Hamlet in August “and, for the record, I did not hire him.”

While the suit was filed in Richmond County Superior Court on Nov. 24, the process began sooner than that. Veach signed a sworn statement on Aug. 18, four days before Adams-David’s last day working for the city of Hamlet.

Neither the city of Hamlet nor Adams-David have been served the complaint. A copy was made public after The Pee Dee Post followed up and requested local Clerk’s Office staff seek guidance. They did so after obtaining a legal opinion Thursday morning from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh. The complaint, an office representative said, is considered a public record as soon as the plaintiff files the document in the clerk’s office.

Veach was previously employed as a detective with the Hamlet Police Department. Veach was at the center of an SBI investigation that looked into whether or not city officers illegally seized privately owned vehicles, sold them and then kept the cash. At least one of those seized cars ended up at Veach’s home.

The suit was a matter of discussion for Hamlet City Council members and city attorney T.C. Morphis Jr. Tuesday night in executive session. Morphis acknowledged afterward that the city had not had received a copy of the complaint. That changed Thursday, when the city received a faxed copy from the Clerk of Superior Court’s Office.

Byrne could not be immediately contacted for comment. A phone number listed in court documents is not a working number.

There is no court date yet scheduled for this complaint to move forward.

Adams-David resigned in July to take a position with the city of Raleigh. Her successor, Marcus Abernethy, was appointed to the position in October. Abernethy said the city attorney is reviewing the complaint that has not yet been served “and we have no comment at this time.”

Abernethy said he couldn’t offer a timeline on which City Council members would discuss the issue until service has been made.

This story was first published at 10:06 a.m. The Post attempted to contact Byrne and Morphis within the last 30 minutes. Stay tuned to PeeDeePost.com for updates.

 

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

You might like:

GAP program fills a hole for ‘hands-on’ experience GAP program fills a hole for ‘hands-on’ experience
Sit back for an ‘interesting story’ Sit back for an ‘interesting story’
Cash available for crime-solving tips Cash available for crime-solving tips
Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield
© 2020 The Pee Dee Post. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.