Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Pender County Sheriff’s deputy cleared of wrongdoing in second use-of-force incident this year

Atkinson resident Wayne Corbett, 59, was injured during a March arrest that led to charges of assault of a government officer and possession of cocaine. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Pender County Sheriff's Office)
Atkinson resident Wayne Corbett, 59, was injured during a March arrest that led to charges of assault of a government officer and possession of cocaine. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Pender County Sheriff’s Office)

District Attorney Ben David said the suspect’s injuries resulted from his attempts to assault deputies and refuse to comply with their commands; both deputies were cleared of wrongdoing although, for one, it is the second use-of-force incident this year to face scrutiny.

BURGAW — A Pender County grand jury indicted Atkinson resident Wayne Corbett on various charges, including assault of a government official and cocaine possession, while the Pender County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) deputies who made the March arrest were cleared of any wrongdoing.

District Attorney Ben David announced the charges brought earlier today, which include two counts of assault on a government official, resisting a public officer, and possession of cocaine.

Wayne Corbett following his arrest on March 15. (Port City Daily photo / Pender County Sheriff's Office)
Wayne Corbett following his arrest on March 15. (Port City Daily photo / Pender County Sheriff’s Office)

David said Corbett, 59, had sustained injuries during his arrest on March 15. According to indictments provided by David’s office, two Pender Counties deputies – identified as detectives M. Wortman and T. Turner – were involved an altercation with Corbett after he fled a vehicle stop for improper tags. 

Corbett resisted arrest, refusing to comply with commands, and struck both detectives according to the indictments, which state that Corbett elbowed Detective Turner in the knee and shoved him, and struck Detective Wortman in the stomach. Corbett sustained injuries as well, including bruising to the face, and was taken to Pender Memorial Hospital.

Detective Wortman was also involved in a January shooting incident where, mistaking a suspect’s flashlight for a weapon, he fired two rounds at the suspect’s vehicle. During a February press conference where David announced there would be no charges against Wortman, he noted that had the detective not slipped on wet grass, the suspect would likely have been injured or killed.

Samantha Dooies, spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office, said these were the only two incidents involving Wortman that had been brought to the DA’s attention.

In relation to these injuries, several PCSO deputies were investigated by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) at the joint request of David’s office and Sheriff Alan Cutler, according to the release.

“In reviewing the accounts from several civilian witnesses, my office has determined that the injuries that Corbett suffered were a result of his assaultive conduct and non-compliance with officer commands,” David said. “With the information my office has received to date, no law enforcement officer will be charged in this incident.”

An internal investigation of the incident by PCSO was also launched and is still ongoing. David said Corbett’s cases will next appear on the June 24 administrative calendar.

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