N.C. Department of Public Safety officials say that the resignation of agency Chief Operating Officer Ellis Boyle is unrelated to the ongoing investigation into the unexpected death of an inmate last month.
DPS issued a release Wednesday announcing Boyle's replacement, but did not explain why the agency chief was leaving. It comes as the department has fired five workers and accepted the resignation of two workers related to the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr, a prisoner who died March 12 en route to Raleigh's Central Prison.
Kerr, a Sampson County native with a history of mental illness, spent more than a month in isolation at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville prior to his death. Family members have blamed prison officials for his death. Meanwhile, officials await the results of a medical examiner's report expected to explain Kerr's cause of death.
According to DPS, the fired prison workers were nurses Brenda Sigman, Wanda St. Clair and Kimberly Towery; nurse supervisor Jacqueline Clark and captain Shawn Blackburn. Nurse Lisa Kemp and staff psychologist Christine Butler have also resigned during the course of the investigation.
More as it develops.
Part of the fallout or not? At this point, the reason for the departure of N.C. Department of Public Safety Chief Operating Officer Ellis Boyle is unclear.
But Boyle's resignation—effective Monday, according to a DPS release today—comes as agency officials confirm seven prison officials have lost their jobs in the wake of the death of an Alexander County inmate March 12, first reported in the Indy April 1. According to DPS spokeswoman Pam Walker, five of those workers were fired; two resigned.
As of this afternoon, DPS' communications office had not responded to inquiries regarding Boyle's departure, particularly whether the resignation is related to an ongoing investigation into the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr.
Today, DPS Secretary Frank Perry named Lorrie Dollar, the former commissioner of DPS administration, acting chief operating officer. Dollar was a private practice attorney before joining DPS.
“Mrs. Dollar has a wealth of experience in legal, financial and personnel matters in both state government and the private sector,” Perry said in the release. “I appreciate her willingness to step into this extremely important role and take on more responsibilities during this time of transition.”
Stay tuned to the Indy for updates.
Update: The suitcase was found to contain clothing.
Robin Dean Bell, who spoke last month before the Human Relations Commission, also attended. She alleged she was racially profiled. She said a police officer stopped her as she was delivering food to a friend, and searched her car for drugs without her permission. No drugs were found. Daunay told the INDY that she complained to the officer that she was being racially profiled, and he allegedly called her "an idiot."
Lynch complained that city police refused to investigate vandalism against his car, which was parked in a county parking deck near the courthouse. The car had decals on it critical of the sheriff's department; those decals had been defaced and ripped from the car exterior. Lynch told the INDY that a city police officer told him that it would take too much paperwork to investigate the case.
In other business, City Manager Tom Bonfield has selected a new board member to fill the vacancy left by James Elam. That person has yet to accept the appointment, so he or she was not named at the meeting. The new member will serve until 2015.
Look for updates in next week's INDY.