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Report: Deputy used force to remove woman from car

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Sunday, September 15, 2019

CAMDEN — A Camden County deputy had to use force to physically remove a woman from a vehicle during her recent roadside arrest, Camden sheriff’s records show.

The arrest occurred at around 3:24 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, near N.C. Highway 343 and Noblitt Drive, according to Deputy V. Dunn’s arrest report. Dunn had to open the driver’s side door and physically remove Sabriah Rayana Overton, 23, from the vehicle, the report states.

Overton, of the 1400 block of Walker Ave, Elizabeth City, was charged with one misdemeanor count each of possession of less than 1 and ½ ounces of a controlled substance, disorderly conduct, and resisting a public officer, the arrest report states.

Overton also was cited for a traffic violation for following too closely, which was the reason Dunn states he stopped her vehicle.

Overton was confined at Albemarle District Jail in lieu of a $1,500 secured bond, but an online search Thursday indicated Overton had been released on bond.

Camden Sheriff Kevin Jones said last week that Dunn’s use of force report was submitted to one of his department’s lieutenants. The sheriff said it is standard procedure for officers to submit a report for review whenever use of force is employed. Use of force is basically the amount of effort an officer uses to cause an uncooperative subject to become compliant.

In Dunn’s narrative accompanying Overton’s arrest report, the deputy details the events that led to his decision to stop Overton and use force in her arrest.

Dunn stated he was patrolling N.C. 343 when he noticed a silver 2010 Toyota Corolla following his patrol car too closely. Dunn said he continued about another mile, thinking the vehicle would either pass him or slow down. The vehicle did neither, so as Dunn approached Noblitt Drive he said he pulled over to allow the Corolla to pass.

Dunn said he decided to activate the emergency lights and siren on his patrol car and stop the Corolla.

“The silver vehicle then locked up their brakes in the middle of the lane and came to a complete stop,” Dunn’s report states.

After stopping behind the Corolla, Dunn said he approached the vehicle and asked the female driver — later identified as Overton — why she was following his vehicle so closely.

“I was doing the speed limit,” Dunn says Overton told him. “I can’t help if you weren’t.”

Dunn says he told Overton while she was not speeding the law still requires drivers to maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles.

“The recommended distance is at least three car lengths,” Dunn stated.

While talking to Overton, Dunn said he observed “in plain view” what he believed to be marijuana in the Corolla’s ash tray.

“What I observed is commonly known as roaches,” Dunn states. “Due to training and experience, smoked down, brown-papered rolled cigarettes are indicative to characteristics of someone smoking marijuana.”

Dunn said he asked Overton to hand him the ashtray and she complied. In the ash tray, Dunn said he saw a “burnt substance” that smelled like marijuana. Dunn said when he then told Overton to step out of the vehicle so he could search it further, she replied that the marijuana was not hers. Dunn says Overton then told him that since the marijuana belonged to someone else, he did not have the right to search her vehicle.

After Dunn cited specific laws that allowed him to search her vehicle, Overton refused to get out of the vehicle, Dunn said.

“Mrs. Overton stated ‘no’ and that it wasn’t right for me to have her step out (of her vehicle),” Dunn said. “I advised Mrs. Overton that I was giving her a legal and lawful command and asked for her to step out of the vehicle.”

Overton, however, continued to refuse to leave her vehicle, Dunn said. Overton also told Dunn she was going to call her mother, he stated.

Dunn said he then reached through the Corolla’s passenger-side window and removed the key from the vehicle’s ignition.

“It is common for individuals who are irate to flee the scene,” he stated. “The removal of the key was to ensure public safety.”

Dunn said he then walked around the car and after opening the driver’s side door, again ordered Overton to step out of the vehicle.

“Mrs. Overton was irate and screaming, stating that she did not have to get out,” Dunn states.

By this time Overton was using her phone to make a video call to her mother, who, because of the video, “observed a brief interaction,” Dunn’s report states.

Dunn said he warned Overton that if she did not step out of the vehicle she would be arrested. He said when she continued to refuse he told her she was under arrest and again ordered her to step out of the car.

“Mrs. Overton continued to scream ‘no,’” Dunn said, claiming it was that moment he determined he would have to use force to remove Overton from her vehicle. “At this time, I developed a professional opinion that the only way the driver was going to exit the vehicle was by force.”

Using his left hand to grab Overton’s left wrist and his right hand to grab Overton’s left upper arm Dunn said he pulled her from the vehicle. With Overton out of the vehicle, Dunn said he placed her left wrist behind her back, but she was still holding her cell phone in her right hand. Dunn said he held Overton’s left wrist and removed the phone from her right hand, which he then placed on the hood of her vehicle.

“I then grabbed her right hand and placed it behind her back, where I placed handcuffs onto the driver,” Dunn’s report states.

During the incident several motorists who had come to a stop in the highway behind them witnessed the altercation, Dunn states.

“Mrs. Overton’s actions and abusive language on the highway that was viewed by several citizens is why she was later charged with disorderly conduct,” Dunn stated.

Dunn walked Overton to his patrol car where he placed her in the backseat. After two other deputies arrived to assist, Dunn noticed Overton’s cell phone was missing from the top of her vehicle, he stated. Returning to his patrol car Dunn said he discovered Overton on the phone and speaking to someone he learned was her mother. This was an audio-only call, with no video, he said.

“It is unknown how Mrs. Overton managed to grab the phone off the vehicle,” Dunn said.

Dunn said he took the cell phone away from Overton, noting it’s not common for someone under arrest to have one. Dunn said he then spoke to the person on the other line who he believes was Overton’s mother.

“I advised the mother that I understood her perspective and that I was sure she was upset about the incident,” Dunn said.

Dunn said he advised Overton’s mother that while it was not common practice, he would allow her to come to the scene so he could explain to her why her daughter was under arrest. Dunn states he escorted Overton’s mother to the Corolla so she could see the marijuana as he had found it in the ash tray.

Dunn said Overton’s mother than followed him to the sheriff’s office, where he continued his conversation with her.

Overton appeared before Magistrate N. Cowell, who found probable cause for her charges, Dunn’s report states. According to her arrest report, Overton’s next date in District Court in Camden is Nov. 15.

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