Four Candor police officers fired, only one still employed

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James Pierce was one of four Candor Police officers fired after a town commissioner meeting Monday. (WGHP)

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CANDOR, N.C. — The Candor Police Department went from five officers to one after a town commissioner meeting Monday night.

The board voted 3-2 to fire four full-time officers in the Montgomery County town of roughly 800.

Officer Eddie Bagwell is the only member of the force left. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will help with law enforcement protection.

There are five members of the Candor Town Commission in addition to Mayor Richard Britt. Philip Hearne and Layton Booker voted against the firing, while Holyfield, fellow new commissioner Rob Martin and Tim Privett voted in favor.

Chief Randy White said Holyfield informed him of the firings after the meeting. Former Sgt. James Pierce said town officials told the officers they didn’t have to say why they were let go.

The firings were the first thing Holyfield did after being sworn in Monday night, and Britt said the three men decided on the dismissals without discussion.

Britt said he had no way to intervene since the county government only allows the mayor to break a tie.

“I do not support the council last night. It wasn’t the right thing to do for the town of Candor, and I’m kind of ashamed for the town of Candor right now,” Britt said.

“I’m on the town board, but I’m a local businessman and I live in town and I want police protection, as well as the other citizens in this town,” said Hearne, a three-term commissioner.

Attempts to speak with Holyfield at Candor Town Hall were unsuccessful Tuesday. The acting police chief said Holyfield slipped out the back door and had someone pick him up.

Martin and Privett also could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Pierce and the other fired officers alleged the firing is connected to a woman upset about getting a warning from former Officer Grantland Jackson during a 2009 traffic stop.

“She and her husband have managed to, with their money, elect a mayor and two town commissioners, and I think it’s fairly obvious to anyone in this town just exactly what went on last night,” Pierce said.

Pierce alleged Teresa Lamonds, who owns a business along with her husband, John, was not happy with the warning and confronted officers at the police department.

“She made threats against this officer, and then she assaulted me, at which point she was placed under arrest,” Pierce said.

Court records showed Lamonds was convicted in district court of communicating threats and resisting an officer. She has appealed both convictions.

Campaign filings show John Lamonds was the only donor to the Holyfield and Martin campaigns. Both received about $3,000.

John and Teresa Lamonds are involved in a civil lawsuit against the town and had no comment Tuesday. The fired officers have filed grievances with the town clerk and filed for unemployment together.

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