Deputy police chief on paid leave after allegations of unlawful use of ammunition

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Port City Daily file photo.
Port City Daily file photo.

The N.C. State Bureau of investigation has been requested to investigate allegations of the unauthorized use of Wilmington Police Department property by one of the agency’s deputy chiefs.

According to a statement to Port City Daily issued by his attorney, Deputy Chief Marshall Williamson is alleged to have unlawfully used the department’s ammunition. Williamson is one of the department’s firearms instructors. While the allegations are investigated, Williamson’s attorney claims the 32-year department veteran has lawfully used “tens of thousands” of rounds of ammunition during his tenure and “denies such conduct.”

On Wednesday, Wilmington Police and District Attorney Ben David requested the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to conduct a criminal investigation into an alleged larceny by employee matter, according to police spokeswoman Linda Rawley. The formal request was forwarded to the SBI in an official letter from the district attorney.

Rawley said the police department received a complaint about possible misappropriation of city property in 2014, but the police department “did not find sufficient evidence to launch an internal affairs investigation at that time.”

A more recent complaint submitted to the agency prompted an internal affairs investigation within the police department, Rawley said. All records and documents involved in the case are now going to the SBI in their request for assistance, she added.

In the letter submitted to the SBI on Wednesday, David wrote, “These allegations surround Deputy Chief Marshall Williamson and his unauthorized use of WPD property. Chief Ralph Evangelous and I jointly request the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation.”

In that letter, David said the police chief notified him about the case Wednesday morning that an internal affairs investigation had been completed. The district attorney requested the SBI take possession of the police department’s records that relate to the case. He also requested the SBI to work with prosecutors with in the Financial Crimes Unit of the Conference of District Attorneys to determine if charges are warranted in the case and for the prosecution of the case if charges are filed.

Williamson, 56, is now on paid administrative leave pending the investigation, Rawley said. Williamson oversees the agency’s Patrol Services Bureau. He was hired with the police department in June 1983 and was appointed deputy chief on Jan. 16, 2002. He has a current salary of $115,102.

The SBI has received this letter, SBI Spokesman Shannon O’Toole said, adding that the state agency has not had an opportunity to meet with the interested parties or retrieve any documents.

Williamson’s attorney, Gary Shipman of Shipman & Wright, L.L.P., released a statement about the allegations to Port City Daily on Wednesday.

In that statement, he wrote:

“Today, Deputy Chief Marshall Williamson, someone who I’ve known for more than thirty (30) years, was placed on administrative leave, with pay, pending the completion of an investigation into the alleged unauthorized use of ammunition belonging to the Wilmington Police Department.  Deputy Chief Williamson, one of the Department’s firearms instructors who has lawfully possessed, used and dispensed tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition in his career, intends to fully cooperate with any investigation, and denies that he has engaged in any inappropriate conduct, much less conduct that warrants any criminal prosecution.  We ask that everyone refrain from an understandable rush to judgment surrounding Deputy Chief Williamson having been placed on administrative leave, an act that both he and I understand to be necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation being conducted.  Everyone who knows Marshall Williamson knows of his integrity, and we’re content that the investigation will show that.”