Grand jury indicts Whiteville sergeant

A Columbus County Grand Jury indicted Sgt. Aaron Herring of the Whiteville Police Department Wednesday in charges of obstruction, failure to discharge the duties of a police officer, and simple assault.

An email sent to members of the city council Wednesday afternoon by Police Chief Jeff Rosier announced that the Grand Jury had returned the true bill of indictment.

Herring, a detective with the department, previously worked for the sheriff’s office. The indictment accuses Herring of assaulting a Whiteville man, Juwarn Britt, while he was in custody in December.

Britt appeared before the city council shortly after the incident, and requested a meeting with the City Manager and Police Chief. Britt was also mentioned during a police brutality protest this summer, when protestors chanted Herring’s name and accused him of other assaults.

Herring was served Wednesday afternoon, according to court documents.

The indictment found that Herring illegally struck Britt in the face while he was in custody, that Herring “threw his badge in anger,” and Herring damaged his own patrol car during the incident.

The assault and willful failure to discharge duties are misdemeanors, while the obstruction charge is a felony.

Herring was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Chief Jeff Rosier said the allegations were the result of a criminal investigation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigations. Herring has been placed on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave until the conclusion of the trial and administrative investigation.

Herring is due to appear in court on the charges on Nov. 16.

District Attorney Jon David said that “out of an abundance of caution,” he requested an assistant district attorney out of the district be assigned to handle the case. ADA Lillian Salcinas of the New Hanover DA’s office will be prosecuting, David said.