Monday, April 22, 2024

WPD officer on paid administrative leave has violent history, records show

Darryl Warren was sworn into the Wilmington Police Department in December 2020. (Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — A police officer arrested earlier in the week for reckless driving while intoxicated and striking a person and parked vehicle has a past indicating disorderly conduct in public, criminal behavior and domestic violence.

READ MORE: 911: 4 callers allege off-duty WPD officer appeared to ‘intentionally’ run over female

ALSO: WPD officer on leave following DWI, striking pedestrian

Wilmington Police Department officer Darryl Warren was arrested July 25 after he blew a 0.10 blood alcohol level. Warren was attempting to make a U-turn in his truck near Costco, ran off the side of the road, and struck a pedestrian and parked vehicle. 

Sgt. Marcus Bethea with NCSHP — who was called to the scene to investigate by WPD when law enforcement realized Warren was an off-duty officer — confirmed the pedestrian, identified as a 34-year-old female, and Warren knew each other.

911 callers who witnessed the incident reported Warren appeared to run over the female “on purpose.” The female was sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

It’s not the first time Warren has caused a public disturbance, according to witness accounts from 911 calls placed four months ago.

Obtained by Port City Daily, the calls were made March 25, 2023. Warren was accused by multiple attendees of a children’s flag football game as being “belligerent” and an altercation ensued. Warren was at Veterans Park, near Ashley High School on Halyburton Memorial Parkway, confirmed by WPD Lt. Greg Willett.

Willett was the city’s watch commander at the time and told Port City Daily the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office contacted him once they arrived on scene.

Based on the 911 records, Warren got angry at one of the coaches during the game, which led to other parents intervening in an attempt to “calm him down.”

The first caller identified herself as the wife of one of the coaches. She told 911 she was requesting an officer at the park because some parents became “unruly.”

“There was some mouthing off, a guy ran toward his car,” she said. “My husband runs the league and said to call you guys just in case it got to be too much.”

The yelling on the field moved to the parking lot, with “up to four or five” other parents involved, according to 911 accounts. The calls are redacted and withhold people’s names.

“He started to take his shirt off and started running to his car, so it looked like there was potential to getting physical,” a caller said. “We thought we’d call before it got to that point.”

Another female told dispatch he was “erratic” and said he started “making threats.”

“It’s one man who is belligerent and fighting other people,” she said.

When the dispatcher asked if weapons were involved, the caller confirmed: “Yes, he has one with him.”

The panicked caller can be heard yelling to all the children — she estimated about 50 — to stay within the vestibule “where it’s covered.” She said she was making it her mission to keep the kids safe, “so no one is coming by to get caught in any cross fire.”

The dispatcher asked if anyone was in danger.

“I feel like the children are in danger,” the woman said. “That’s why I’m calling.”

Two other callers also mentioned a gun being pulled, but no shots were fired.

Warren was not arrested for the incident, NHCSO Lt. Jerry Brewer confirmed. He said multiple witnesses indicated Warren was trying to break up the fight.

“It’s not exactly cut and dry, black and white,” Brewer said. “And how he did that [tried to stop the fight], I don’t know whether it was appropriate.”

However, Brewer also said one man did accuse Warren of taking out his weapon.

“We do have one of the guys, who was in the fight afterward, say, ‘No, after it was broken up, he chased me down and brandished a firearm,’” Brewer said. “There was a firearm brandished, but there was not enough evidence there to make any criminal charges.”

NHCSO deputies told that man he could file a complaint with the WPD.

WPD Lt. Willett said following the incident, the “appropriate notifications” were made within the police department regarding Warren’s behavior. The outcome of an internal affairs investigation within WPD is not public record, so repercussions, if any, for Warren are not known.

Additional instances of violence are also part of Warren’s criminal history, though some from nearly two decades ago.

In March 2002, Warren was charged in Durham for resisting a public officer and for a simple possession of schedule VI controlled substances, which could include marijuana. The charges were “dismissed without leave” by the district attorney.

Later that same year, he was charged with felony breaking and entering, reduced to a misdemeanor for which he was found guilty. 

He also was charged with felony possession of a stolen firearm in 2005 and making a threatening phone call to a male in 2006. Both were dismissed by the DA.

According to the North Carolina Department of Justice’s minimum standards for police certification, officers cannot have committed or been convicted of a felony. 

The standards also state applicants cannot have committed or been convicted of a class B misdemeanor within five years prior to date of employment or have four class B misdemeanors on record, regardless of date.

Warren’s past did not make him ineligible to be a law enforcement officer, per the state’s regulations.

Warren moved to Wilmington in 2014 to attend the police academy and became a police officer in December 2015. He first worked for the Wrightsville Beach Police Department before being sworn in to WPD in December 2020.

Wrightsville Beach Police Chief David Squires said Warren resigned in October 2020. Though he could not, by statute, detail Warren’s reason for leaving, Squires said “he didn’t leave under any bad circumstances.”

Port City Daily asked the WPD for Warren’s personnel information, including any promotions or demotions, as well as disciplinary actions taken against him since he’s served with the city department. Though WPD said it shared the information with the city clerk Friday — all public records for the WPD have to go through the City of Wilmington — PCD did not receive the request by press; this will be updated upon response.

Warren is on paid administrative leave, pending a WPD internal investigation into Tuesday’s arrest. At least one 911 caller refers to the victim, who Warren hit in a Toyota Tundra, as “his girlfriend.” 

“There’s a male in a truck, he hit his — apparently his girlfriend — she’s in the back seat and hurt,” a female caller said. “The male has a gun on his hip; a Black male,” the caller continued. “He’s acting like it was an accident, but I don’t know.”

If true — officials can only confirm the victim knew the driver and she was a passenger prior to exiting — it’s not the first domestic violence act Warren has been associated with.

He appeared in court for a protective order filed against him last summer. Warren was married for 13 years but separated from his wife one month after he started with WPD; they divorced in 2022, according to documents.

On July 5, 2022, a complaint and motion was filed for the protective order against Warren over safety concerns, on behalf of his ex-wife and their children, who the couple has joint custody of.

(Port City Daily withholds the names of domestic violence victims for safety.) 

According to court documents, there was alleged “extreme emotional abuse,” exhibited by both Warren and Warren’s mother.

The protective order was sought following an incident three days earlier, citing he showed up at his ex-wife’s house, banging on the door; she said she felt threatened, according to documents.

Judge R. Russell Davis denied issuing the order due to failure to prove grounds it was needed, but he wasn’t clear on the reasoning, based on a recording of the hearing obtained by PCD. Nor were finding of facts — notes judges make on their decisions — included in the case file. 

PCD asked for the finding of facts in the case, but the New Hanover County court clerk’s office said the only information available was what was in the file or on the recording.

Judge Davis offered a solution for the ex-couple to “talk to a family attorney.” The judge also suggested the ex-wife speak with the police department, to which she informed him she had and nothing came from it. 

WPD Lt. Willett could not confirm if the department has spoken with the ex-wife or was aware of the attempted protective order. He said it would be considered an internal administrative matter and not public record.

Generally speaking, if an officer was the subject of a domestic violence situation, Willett said “administrative things would be put in place to make sure the officer was in compliance with the court order.”

“I filed an order because Darryl’s behavior seems to be escalating,” the ex-wife told the judge, per a recording of the hearing. “It’s not OK for him to be that way — to yell and scream and emotionally abuse me in front of our children.”

The 911 call she made when Warren appeared at her house last year specifies she was asking for police presence.

“He’s threatening to come in and I would just like some support,” the ex-wife told the dispatcher.

She described him as a Black male and said he was an officer with the Wilmington Police Department.

“He has a gun; it’s a concern I’ve had before,” she said.

She also confirmed there were children in the house.

“He was intoxicated,” the ex-wife told dispatch. “He’s known to be very violent and I don’t want him to come back over here.”

Eventually, Warren left before officers responded.

Based on the hearing for the protective order, the ex-wife described the incident leading up to Warren’s arrival at her residence. She said her son was with his father that weekend, but she got a call at 10:45 p.m. that the son had not yet been picked up from a location that closed at 10 p.m.

Warren told the judge he fell asleep and woke up to missed calls and messages from his son and ex-wife. Though the ex-wife asked him to deal with it in the morning and not come over that evening, Warren said he went to her house to pick up the son because “it was his weekend.”

“Every time something happens, if I talk to her a certain way, or the way I address something, she says she’s going to call DSS,” Warren told the judge. “Anything involved with the kids she doesn’t like, this is what happens.”

The ex-wife described Warren as “irate” and told the judge she assumed he was drunk and passed out.

“If that’s not correct, that’s fine,” she said. “That’s bad if you were sober and made a decision to do that to me; that’s even worse.”

She also said Warren’s behavior around the children is what led the two to mediation the prior year.

“And the behavior hasn’t stopped,” she added. “I’m scared. He’s a police officer; it’s escalating.”

She also noted her goal was not to take the kids from him.

“I want them to be safe, to be cared for when they’re with him,” she said. “He has to be a responsible parent.”

When Judge Davis heard both sides during the protective order hearing, he agreed Warren’s behavior was not an appropriate response to the situation. Though he told the two to take it up with lawyers handling their custody arrangement for clarity.

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