Candor hires two officers, removes commissioner’s police control

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The Candor Elementary School gym was almost full for a meeting regarding last week's police officer firings. (Mitch Carr/WGHP)

CANDOR, N.C. — Candor town commissioners hired two new officers and stripped a commissioner of police control exactly one week after four of five officers were fired.

Wayne Holyfield is no longer the commissioner in charge of police after a specially called meeting Monday night at Candor Elementary school. This was the first thing Mayor Richard Britt did as he opened the meeting.

Last Monday Holyfield filed a motion to fire four of the town’s five officers right after he was sworn in. The commissioners then voted 3-2 in favor of that motion.

Nobody–the mayor, the commissioners who voted it down, the public nor even the fired officers–was given a reason for the firings.

The meeting was billed as a question-and-answer session, but while the residents asked questions, Holyfield, who is also a state trooper, did not provide answers.

“I’m going to make an opening statement before I refuse to answer your questions….Since North Carolina is an at-will state, I do not have to give a reason,” Holyfield said.

The crowd booed Holyfield when he walked into the meeting. FOX8 tried to get comment from Holyfield after the meeting, but he kept walking to his car without commenting and drove away.

Commissioners also voted to hire one new full-time officer and one new part-time officer, as well as sign a deal with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to cover the overnight shift.

“When these decisions are made, they are made, and we are going to move forward in this town,” Britt said.

But Commissioner Phillip Hearne said moving forward will be easier said than done.

“How are we going to move forward when we can’t explain how these officers got fired?” Hearne said.

The meeting was moved to the school gymnasium as there was not enough room at the town hall for everyone who expressed interest in attending. The gym bleachers were almost full by the time the meeting started.

The fired officers allege the firings happened because a woman, Theresa Lamonds, is still not happy with a 2009 traffic stop.

They allege Lamonds and her husband, John Lamonds, bought and paid for the commissioners with the express purpose of removing the officers.

The Lamonds attended Monday night’s meeting, along with their attorney, Ervin Brown. Brown said the officers’ allegations are not true, and as Candor residents, the Lamonds also want to know why the officers were fired.

“They don’t know any more than the people who spoke here tonight about why these officers were discharged. I think the Lamonds would have liked it if the commissioners said, ‘Well, we gave these reasons for getting rid of these police officers.’

“I don’t know that you can make the jump from making a campaign contribution. I think they’re people of some substance in this community. They were making a contribution to the people they thought would best serve the community,” Brown said.

The Lamonds have sued the Town of Candor, saying one of the officers was excessively violent in arresting her during the traffic stop.

The officers attended the meeting with an attorney, who said he thinks the men have a case in their dismissal. However, he advised the officers not to speak with the media.