Fired North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper, Michael Blake, will receive no jail time after accepting a plea deal in the 2018 beating of Kyron Hinton.
Blake was part of an indictment on assault charges that said he and another trooper hit Hinton in the head with their flashlights during an arrest that took occurred on April 3, 2018. Blake lost his job after video showed him and two other law enforcement officials beating Hinton with their flashlights.
Hinton, who was intitially charged with disorderly conduct, resisting a public officer, and assault on a law enforcement animal was not charge after the Wake County District Attorney’s Office dropped those charges on May 7, 2018.
Hinton was hospitalized after the beating and received an $83,000 settlement from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office following an excessive force investigation months later.
Hinton died the day after he received that settlement in February 2019. The medical examiner identified Hinton’s cause of death as cocaine toxicity and homicide.
Because Hinton died, the district attorney feared convincing a jury to find cops guilty of assault might be difficult without a star witness. So instead she went after the officer’s law enforcement credentials.
“We believe that is an appropriate outcome to this matter,” said Lorrin Freeman, Wake County District Attorney.
Blake pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of willful failure to discharge his duty and in exchange, the felony assault charges were dropped
The former cop will serve no time behind bars. Instead, a judge gave Blake a 45-day suspended sentence and 12 months probation. Blake also has to relinquish his law enforcement certification.
Raleigh community activist Kerwin Pittman described the reaction from Hinton’s family to the Blake plea deal as a “sense of disbelief and distrust.”
Pittman said when he called Hinton’s family Monday morning they had no idea the plea deal was coming.
“She was expecting a phone call but it never came,” Pittman said about his call with Shannon Utley, the mother of Hinton’s daughter who has been tracking the cases against the officers closely. “So it was a shock and surprise. She hadn’t heard at all. It was the first time she heard it so, she really said ‘whoa!'”
“(Two misdemeanors) is not nearly enough. We know the intentions behind (Michael Blake’s) actions were malicious because of the audio,” Pittman said. “This right here only creates a deeper divide between the community and law enforcement.”