Warrants accuse officers of illegally restraining, assaulting man

Jan. 21, 2013 @ 06:13 PM

Arrest warrants allege that three Durham police officers who were arrested Friday after a disturbance that involved a larceny illegally entered a man’s house on Landis Drive, unlawfully restrained him and assaulted him by grabbing his arm.
Three others accused in the incident are accused of throwing a person into a wall and slapping a woman in the face.
The accused officers are Lt. Ryan A. Freeman, Stacy L. Armstrong and Erin V. Espinola.
They are charged with false imprisonment and assault that apparently happened at two homes, including the one on Landis Drive, and stemmed from the theft of items from an unnamed Ninth Street club that included a wallet with police identification, according to police.
In addition, Armstrong was charged with two counts of misdemeanor breaking and entering and Freeman and Espinola were each charged with one count of breaking and entering.
The officers, who were off duty when the alleged incidents happened early Friday, were placed on administrative leave with pay, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said.
Officers responded to a disturbance call shortly before 1 a.m. Friday at a home on Trevor Circle. A few minutes later, they were sent to a related call at a home on Landis Drive.
Investigators said they learned that the disturbance involved an earlier larceny of an iPhone, wallet with police identification and coat from the Ninth Street club.
Police said several people pushed their way into a home in an effort to retrieve the property. During the disturbance, a man was chased to another location, where he allegedly was assaulted.
Lopez said all charges are misdemeanors. The officers were released later Friday after appearing before a Durham County magistrate and posting $4,000 unsecured bonds. They are due in court Feb. 19.
The others charged in the incident are Jessica Lobaugh, 30, of Timberlake; Benjamin Brackett, 32, of Timberlake; and Jennifer Norton, 30, of Rougemont. Each is charged with one count of assault and misdemeanor breaking and entering.
According to warrants at the Durham County Magistrate’s Office, Lobaugh is accused of dragging a woman by her hair and slapping her in the face. Brackett is accused of also slapping a woman, and Norton is charged with throwing a person into a wall.
They were released Friday on written promises to appear in court Feb. 14.
Police said Friday that all six arrested apparently knew each other, but that “we believe this was an isolated incident.”
In an interview Friday night, Lopez said “there was no felonious intent that we could see in any of it. We wouldn’t have charged them if we didn’t believe that the charges are true. We’re confident with the charges that we’re bringing now.”
He said more people could be charged, but probably not more officers.
No additional arrests in the case were reported Monday.