Lawsuit against town police alleges abuse

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adam Mills was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated around 1:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. 

On the same day his father, Darryl Mills, was elected to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen on Nov. 8, 2011, Adam Mills, 27, was arrested at the intersection of Wrightsville Avenue and Military Cutoff by the Wrightsville Beach Police Department on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Now, almost two years later, Adam Mills has filed a lawsuit against WBPD officers J. Rich and J. McCubbins for injuries he alleges he sustained during his arrest. 

In the lawsuit filed by Mills, he claims he was harassed by the arresting officers — Rich and T. Greene — while being transported to the WBPD; and during the time he was detained at police headquarters, he alleges officer McCubbins punched him in the head, and that both McCubbins and Rich threw him to the floor, face first. 

“At no time did Mr. Mills pose any physical threat to Defendants, or any other officer,” the lawsuit reads. “He was handcuffed the entire time, and other than his verbal statements, he gave no indication to any reasonable officer that he posed a threat that would have justified force of any kind.”

Mills was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where it was determined that he had suffered a fracture to the left eye socket and a broken nose. 

As noted in the lawsuit the actions inside the WBPD were recorded on a surveillance camera and Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens said town attorney John Wessell would decide whether or not to release the video evidence. 

Mills is seeking redress for alleged violations to his 14th Amendment rights and is seeking punitive damages in an amount in excess of $10,000 against the individual officers and the same amount against the town of Wrightsville Beach. 

Mills, whose father is also an attorney, is being represented by Katherine Lewis Parker of Tin Fulton Walker and Owen, PLLC, in Wilmington. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Southern Division on July 1, 2013. 

Five months prior to the filing of the lawsuit Mills and Parker issued a demand letter to the town for the possibility of settling the case pre-suit but the town chose not to accept. In the demand letter Parker states Mills authorized her to convey a monetary offer of $200,000 from the town to settle the suit in addition to confirmation that the WBPD take steps, “through policy changes and added training, to ensure that this type of incident never occurs again.” 

A search of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Offender Public Information database discloses Mills as having two prior convictions in New Hanover County for DWI, drunk and disorderly, as well as resisting an officer prior to the 2011 arrest. 

The first, which occurred on May 13, 2006 at 100 Causeway Drive near the intersection of Keel Street, included possession or purchase of a malt beverage by someone younger than 21, driving while disqualified, disorderly conduct and assault on a policeman. Mills received a suspended sentence, probation and community service in that 2006 conviction.

The second arrest was on Aug. 5, 2008 at 200 Eastwood Road, near the intersection of Eastwood and Racine Drive, and included charges for Level V driving while intoxicated and resisting an officer. He was convicted in 2009 of DWI and resisting an officer, again receiving probation, a suspended sentence and community service. 

Level V is the lowest level for DWI charges in North Carolina and carries a punishable fine up to $200 with a minimum sentence of 24 hours and maximum of 60 days. With that prior charge Mills’ 2011 DWI charge was a Level II, which carries a punishable fine up to $2,000 with a minimum sentence of seven days and maximum of one year. 


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