Written By: Nathan Cox
(Correction: Virginia Cop Block originally published on July 21st that Petersburg does not have an active chapter of the NAACP. This information was published due to inaccurate information that was given to us by two members of Chesterfield County’s NAACP, one member being L.J McCoy, the President of that chapter. McCoy did say the Petersburg NAACP chapter had not been active for 6 or more years. However we learned today, July 23rd, that Alenza Mayfield did in fact re-institute the chapter back around the March time-frame of this year. My personal apologies to Mayfield for the error. – Nathan Cox)
On Friday July 18th, Petersburg Police Chief, John Dixon and NAACP’s Alzena Mayfield, President of the Petersburg chapter held an impromptu press conference at the Petersburg Police Department. The Petersburg community has been waiting for well over one month now to see if Officer Vance Richards will be held accountable for assaulting Devin Thomas for simply recording a traffic stop. Various individuals from the Petersburg community, as well as neighboring counties, are concerned about what has been happening and have reached out to express their desire to have a town hall style gathering with Chief Dixon, to no avail thus far. A number of individuals as well as members of the media like Brent Solomon, a reporter for NBC 12, are concerned about this matter and are eager and patiently waiting to hear the results of this “internal investigation”.
The police do not like transparency and accountability and it doesn’t matter if this accountability is coming from your “average citizen” or the local media; they don’t like you questioning them (or their “authority”). They will either refuse to respond to emails, phone calls or deliberately dodge and dance around answering a question like Florida Governor Rick Scott, who recently dodged answering questions to the Press about the Police in Florida.
Jimmy Higgins, an active individual with Virginia Cop Block, activist and independent journalist, has called up to the department on multiple occasions inquiring about the investigation. Mr. Higgins has specifically tried to find out if the investigation has been concluded. Each time, Jimmy has been told either “No Comment” or that “the department is not giving out the results of the investigation.” Brent Solomon told me on July 9th that he called the department that day to inquire about the investigation. Solomon relayed what they said and he told me,“The investigation continues and that they will make a comment after the court proceedings are over.”
I find that interesting for two reasons. The first reason is the P.P.D realizes that if the investigation results show that officer Vance Richards did in fact unjustly assault Devin Thomas (in the head) with a baton, then the two false charges against Thomas would have to be dropped. Thanks to investigative journalist A.J Lagoe, who formally worked with Richmond’s WRIC – 8, we already know that the P.P.D is willing to do what it takes to get a conviction. On a quick side note, it’s very troubling and concerning that these investigations are “internal”. Is that not a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t investigations be independent? Do you think internal investigations are overall effective and productive? What about fair? Here is just one internal investigation that clearly shows the investigator is partial, since they are on the same team.
The second reason I find the P.P.D’s response to Brent Solomon interesting is because of what was said by the Chief Dixon at the News Conference. Ashley Monfort who covers this story mentions that this is the first time Chief Dixon has spoke out about this Thomas incident – which occurred more than a month ago! In the video below Dixon states, “We have not concluded this investigation partly because they have not sat down and talked with us about the investigation so we can’t bring it to a conclusion.” Does it sound like he’s redirecting responsibility?
Dixon’s statement is not entirely accurate. Read more