Updated June 9 at 9:25 a.m. — According to Pender County Human Resources Director Jennifer Kimler, Jimmie Stokes was still working as a part-time deputy until Monday, when he was officially terminated from his position.
Captain James Rowell said Stokes was informed of his termination on Saturday, after Sheriff Alan Cutler learned of his social media post made earlier that morning.
Stokes was hired as a school resource officer by the Pender County Sheriff’s Office in 2011. According to Kimler, there are no records of any dismissal, suspension, or demotion.
When the county was asked to provide its stance on the issue, given that many on social media had expressed a belief that Stokes was unfairly targeted and had a right to free speech, while others said county employees were held at a higher standard and must face the consequences of their free speech, Kimler said she could not discuss personnel matters pursuant to North Carolina law.
She also declined to comment on the county’s plans for Stokes’ employment at the county’s inspections department.
BURGAW — On the morning of a Burgaw rally organized to protest the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd, a former Pender County Sheriff’s deputy who now works at the county’s inspection department shared a Facebook post suggesting Floyd should have been shot years earlier.
Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler condemned the post and said he would never allow the ex-deputy to wear another uniform while he led the Sheriff’s Office.
Jimmie Stokes, who also ran for sheriff in the 2018 elections, shared the message on Friday morning, hours before the 4 p.m. rally began at Pender Memorial Park — and on the same day that mourners gathered in Raeford, near Fayetteville, for Floyd’s memorial service.
“The media and the left have made George Floyd into a martyr, but who was he really?” the post starts, before listing out Floyd’s criminal history, including years spent in a Texas prison for armed robbery.
“When he was killed, he was high on meth getting ready to drive a car and possibly kill your kid. Too bad the pregnant woman didn’t have a gun,” the post concluded, in reference to rumors that a pregnant woman was inside the Houston, Texas home when it was robbed by Floyd.
After speaking to a crowd of protestors spread out in clustered groups at the park on Friday afternoon, Sheriff Alan Cutler said he had been informed of Stokes’ social media post earlier in the day.
“We will not put him back in uniform as long as I’m sheriff,” Cutler said.
He said Stokes had resigned several months ago and went to work at the Pender County Permits and Inspections Department. There was some confusion among those spotlighting Stokes’ post on Facebook Friday because his profile page said he was still a PCSO deputy.
When Stokes ran for the sheriff’s office in 2018, he was working as a school resource officer at Pender High School.
Cutler said his office had prepared all week to ensure the rally was safe, “to protect these people and let them have a rally.”
“And then you have a post like that come out this morning, and it just stirs people up,” he said.
He said his office had investigated several social media posts suggesting people planned to attend the protest to create problems, but ultimately those plans did not play out.
The rally was held with pockets of protestors spread out on blankets and in chairs at the park, and they departed at 6 p.m. without a hitch.
Floyd did have an extensive criminal record. He received five years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery of a Houston home. According to the Daily Mail, court records showed that George entered a woman’s home, pointed a gun at her stomach, and searched for money and drugs with five other men (the records did not note whether the woman was pregnant).
Earlier, he received two separate sentences, each less than 10 months, for possessing less than one gram of cocaine. In 2002, Floyd was arrested for criminal trespassing and served a month in jail, according to Daily Mail, and he was also charged for theft in 1998.
An autopsy report found that Floyd had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death — although drugs were not listed as the cause of death — and that he was postive for the novel coronavirus.
According to multiple media reports, George’s longtime friend, Christopher Harris, said he moved to Minneapolis after getting out of prison in 2013 to start a new life.
On May 25, a Minneapolis grocery store employee called police after Floyd attempted to use a counterfeit $20 bill.
In a response recorded on videos by witnesses, MPD officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee to George’s neck for nearly nine minutes; Floyd told him multiple times that he couldn’t breathe. Responding medics could not find a pulse, and he was later pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Chauvin was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but on Wednesday those charges were upgraded to second-degree murder. The three other officers with Chauvin during the incident were each charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder.