Henderson County DA: Cop's force against 5th-grader was 'not excessive'; no charges

Henderson, Polk and Transylvania Counties District Attorney Andrew Murray says Deputy Alan Brackett's use of force on a child was not excessive.
Henderson, Polk and Transylvania Counties District Attorney Andrew Murray says Deputy Alan Brackett's use of force on a child was not excessive.

FLETCHER - Henderson County District Attorney Andrew Murray says that the force used by Deputy and School Resource Officer Terry Alan Brackett on a fifth-grader was not excessive.

As a result, Brackett will face no criminal charges.

"After a thorough review of the SBI’s comprehensive Investigative Report regarding the alleged use of excessive force on a juvenile by Henderson County Deputy Alan Brackett, I have determined that the force used by SRO Brackett during his encounter with a juvenile in the lobby area of Fletcher Elementary School on May 10, 2022, was not excessive," Murray wrote in an email to the Citizen Times. "As such, I have determined that SRO Brackett did not commit any crimes, assaultive in nature or otherwise, against the juvenile on May 10, 2022."

More:SBI investigating school resource officer's use of force on Fletcher Elementary student

"I am sensitive to the fact that this incident involved an investigation where a juvenile was involved," he wrote. "It is the obligation of the courts to ensure any law enforcement records concerning a juvenile are withheld from public inspection. Because of the constraints surrounding investigations where a juvenile is involved, I have determined that it would be inappropriate to disclose or release any facts or circumstances associated with the encounter between the juvenile and SRO Brackett.  Any actions to the contrary could be interpreted as inconsistent with the provisions of North Carolina General Statute - Juvenile Code § 7B-300."

The incident happened May 9, according to past news releases from Henderson County Public Schools and the Sheriff's Office.

DA, Sheriff decline to discuss

Neither Murray nor a Henderson County Sheriff's Office spokesperson would discuss the incident beyond news releases.

"I do not plan on commenting beyond my email," Murray told the Citizen Times in a text message.

Similarly, beyond saying that the HCSOe was grateful for a "thorough and complete investigation of the alleged incident" involving Brackett, spokesperson Johnny Duncan declined to comment.

"The District Attorney has made his decision regarding any potential criminal process known," he wrote in an email. "This office cannot comment on any personnel actions other than those allowed by North Carolina and Federal Law."

"As this investigation is now formally closed, there will be no further comment from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office," the email said.

He did not respond to questions asking whether Brackett would continue working as a school resource officer or if he would be disciplined for any conduct offenses.

In May, an anonymous source told the Citizen Times that Brackett seriously assaulted the fifth-grader, in part by pinning the child down with his knee and restricting the child's breathing.

More:Fletcher Elementary SRO investigated by SBI: Officer fired more than once previously

In a May 9 message to Henderson County's school board, then-Superintendent John Bryant said that the child was in the main office for being disruptive when Brackett grabbed the elementary school student by the back of the hoodie, knocked the child out of a chair and pinned the child to the ground "by placing his knee on (their) chest."

The student “repeatedly asked” the SRO to let go and stated that they “could not breathe,” the message says. Fletcher Elementary Principal Tammy Deaver "had to also repeatedly ask the SRO to let the student go which resulted in the SRO placing the student in another chair.”

When the child continued to be disruptive, Brackett struck them in the face, the message says.

The Citizen Times obtained the message through a public records request for Griffin's emails. The sheriff shared the message with some of his employees the day of the incident. He requested that the SBI investigate May 10.

The child's guardian did not respond to requests for comment on the afternoon of Sept. 23.

Brackett could not be reached for comment.

Ryan Oehrli is the breaking news and social justice reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times. Send tips to coehrli@citizentimes.com. 

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Cop's force was 'not excessive'; no charges, says Henderson DA