Under Greensboro City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba, “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t appear to exist for Greensboro police officers.
On June 6, Greensboro Police Officer M.E. Hamilton was indicted by a Guilford County grand jury for manslaughter for an incident that took place on Nov. 19, 2021, when Hamilton fatally shot Joseph Lopez who was hiding in a storage shed behind the house at 3504 Cloverdale Dr. A week earlier, Greensboro police had responded to a call from the same address and Lopez was found hiding in the house armed with a shotgun.
After being indicted, Hamilton was terminated by the Greensboro Police Department.
Through his attorney, Amiel Rossabi, Hamilton immediately appealed his termination. Up until June 6, no disciplinary action by the City of Greensboro or the Greensboro Police Department had been taken against Hamilton. After the shooting he had been placed on administrative duty, which is standard practice for any officer involved in a shooting.
The State Bureau of Investigation completed its investigation of the shooting in March and submitted the report to Guilford County District Attorney Avery Crump. No charges were filed, but Crump did present the case to the grand jury on June 6 and received a true bill of indictment. Rossabi notes that he had asked to be allowed to present evidence to the grand jury but was not allowed to do so.
In the denial of the appeal of termination of Officer Hamilton, Jaiyeoba wrote, “In light of your client’s indictment, without analyzing external factors, motivations, etc., I believe the indictment alone constitutes an instance ‘so egregious that it erodes public trust and negatively impacts or interferes with the day to day operations of the Department’, as covered pursuant to Departmental Directive 7.2.12. Therefore, it is my opinion that the decision to terminate your client was proper and in accordance with Departmental Directive 7.2.12.”
An indictment is not a conviction and, unlike a trial jury, the grand jury hears only the evidence presented by the district attorney, nothing from the defense.
In the past, Greensboro police officers who faced criminal charges were placed on unpaid administrative leave.