[Exclusive] Fallen Officer's Family: He feared for his safety.
[EXCLUSIVE] Mooresville K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon was killed in the line of duty on May 4, 2019. For the first time his family is speaking out saying, “He feared for his safety.” Six months after the death of Mooresville Police Officer Jordan Sheldon, the family is revealing major safety concerns leading up to the Jordan's death. The concerns paint a picture of a police department equipped with missing or faulty gear and policies that didn't adequately ensure officer safety, which led to concerns Sheldon voiced repeatedly in the weeks and months leading up to his death. According to family and other officers, Sheldon repeatedly requested a floodlight for his vehicle. His K9 emergency response button to release his dog wasn't working. But the most frightening concern for the family, Jordan repeatedly told them he didn't have backup. Watch the story below. Click here to read more.
In Part 2 of my interview with the family of Officer Jordan Sheldon, they say Sheldon worried about not having appropriate backup along with missing and malfunctioning equipment. The family has been requesting Sheldon’s testimony transcript from an investigation into the Mooresville Police Department sparked by claims of a hostile work environment. NBC Charlotte has learned many officers within the department had the same concerns as Sheldon. NBC Charlotte obtained some of their testimony.
One stated, "Many of these issues cause me great concern when it comes to my personal safety, especially the department failure to train and failure to provide equipment that works."
Another officer's testimony stated, "This agency needs help. I am not the only one that fears for my safety."
These statements were made three months before Sheldon died. Watch the full story below. Click here to read more.
[Part 3] Exclusive: Officers react to Mooresville police chief's resignation
Officers with insight into the Mooresville Police Department are coming forward. WCNC disguised their identities so they could speak candidly.
The resignation of Mooresville Police Chief Damon Williams comes one week after an exclusive NBC Charlotte investigation that revealed major safety concerns within the department.
Those worries came straight from the officers on the force and the family of Officer Jordan Sheldon, who was killed in the line of duty.
"Jordan loved being a policeman. He would want other police officers to be safe, so that's our whole reason for being here," Sheldon’s mother, Susan Ledford, told us.
In an exclusive interview with Sheldon's family, we learned about the officer's lack of backup, missing gear like a floodlight for his car, and malfunctioning equipment especially when it came to his emergency canine release button.
"When I came down here, it was clear that the structure of the police department, the command structure set up wasn't working," Interim Chief Ron Campurciani told NBC Charlotte’s Sarah French.
Campurciani took over after Williams was suspended a month after Sheldon's death. Williams had been under investigation since the beginning of the year amid claims of a hostile work environment. Williams was suspended with pay back in June but had been volunteering as Chief of Police in Taylortown.
Now, officers with insight into the Mooresville Police Department are coming forward. WCNC disguised their identities so they could speak candidly.
"I'm not the only one that was afraid for my life."
"You didn't know who you could trust and who you couldn't."
"One of the people who always had my back and I always had theirs was Officer Sheldon."
"I felt 100% that the reason why Sheldon was no longer with us is because the agency let him down. Where was his backup?"
Following the investigation, Deputy Chief Gerald Childress and Major Ronnie Chilton were both demoted to the rank of police officer this month.
"While it was great to see that the town took some initiative, you've now put these people that we as officers have openly complained about and you've now put them on the line with us," officers told us.
Officers we spoke with were also upset Williams was allowed to resign.
"There’s no way there's not enough to fire him. I think the town is more afraid of getting a black eye."
"We're tired of this as officers; we are just sick and tired."
Another officer sent us a statement saying, "I hope that the chief’s resignation isn't the last step for the town. And they follow through with the rest of the issues with the agency including their own policies."
Another officer went on to say, "The officers that's not cutting it, they are going to have to get them out of there and hire qualified officers that's not scared to do their job, that's not lazy."
Officers tell us they are still concerned for the future of the agency.
"I just don't want there to be another incident before everything comes out."
However, they are commending Sheldon's family for coming forward.
"I think they are doing the right thing because, if not, I don't know if this would've got the attention that it's getting now. Since it's getting the attention, hopefully, it will change for the better for all the officers that are working at Mooresville."
Another anonymous officer said, "I’m glad he’s gone. Williams destroyed moral, officers lost trust of not only the back hall, but those immediate supervisors who went along with the plan to be in their good graces. Williams created strife and hired/retained several unqualified individuals. Chief Campurciani has made and is continuing to make positive changes in the department."
Sheldon’s family sent us a statement upon hearing the news of Williams resignation:
"We feel Damon Williams should have been fired. Given the length of the ISS investigation and the complaints voiced by Jordan and relayed by us, it is obvious that there is a total lack of leadership at the department. Actions should have consequences. It is not obvious that Williams didn’t resign at the threat of being fired. Given the amount of time he has been on leave, it seems strange timing that he would resign now out of nowhere. We think Jordan deserved better when he worked under Damon and his leadership and his legacy deserves better now."
[Part 4] Mooresville police captain dismissed, had encouraged investigation into officer's death
Sources said Captain David Call suggested to command staff the department conduct a minute by minute investigation into the night Officer Jordan Sheldon was killed.
There's more fallout in the Mooresville Police Department following an WCNC NBC Charlotte investigation into the shooting death of K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon.
Captain David Call has been given a notice of dismissal, WCNC has confirmed.
Call, who sources said called for further investigation into the shooting death of Officer Sheldon, is the second ranking member of the department to leave this month.
Mooresville Police Chief Damon Williams resigned last week from his position, days after an NBC Charlotte investigation into the department's handling of internal complaints.
The result of the internal investigation into Williams was never officially disclosed but WCNC NBC Charlotte has learned it involved officers complaints about safety and a hostile work environment.
Those officers who previously testified about safety included Officer Jordan Sheldon, who was killed during a traffic stop in May.
Sheldon's family recently spoke exclusively to NBC Charlotte.
"When somebody starts sentences with at family dinner with, 'If I die in the line of duty,' that seemed wildly out of character for him and that was alarming to us," said Sheldon's brother, Carson Ledford.
"You didn't know who you could trust and who you couldn't," an anonymous officer told NBC Charlotte.
Sources said Call suggested to command staff the department conduct a minute by minute investigation into the night Sheldon was killed, which, according to a WCNC source, "was met with a lot of opposition."
A police insider said complaints to the chief were often met with the same response.
"Stay in your lane; we will worry about it," an anonymous officer said.
According to multiple sources, Call decided to bypass the police chief and took his concerns directly to Mooresville's elected officials, which is a violation of town policy.
"We were all afraid from the get-go for the majority of the agency was either cynical or afraid one of the two that whatever we said was going to be used against us," an anonymous officer said.
The department has been under scrutiny since February when claims of a hostile work environment sparked an investigation.
Police sources said Call made one of those claims. Another officer also filed another complaint.
"Two days later, that officer was fired," an anonymous officer said.
Sheldon's family is upset Williams was allowed to resign and Call could be fired.
In a statement, they said, in part, "David Call is a good man. He was one of few people at the department who seemed genuinely upset at Jordan's murder and more so that he wanted to help fix the problems that exacerbated the circumstances under which Jordan died."
"We would like an investigation into what happened within the department that night, what could be changed, what could they learn from this incident," said Sheldon's sister, Lauren Sheldon.
"I just don't want there to be another incident before everything comes out," an anonymous officer said.
NBC Charlotte received a statement from Call's attorney, William Hill, that said:
"We are very disappointed that someone with the town leaked the information that he was recommended for termination. Because there is a grievance process, it's supposedly not final. It’s pretty clear they had their mind made up, and he was targeted and this is just further evidence of it. They have a lot of explaining to do."
Interim Chief Ron Campurciani has been in Mooresville since June. Originally from Massachusetts, he agreed to a 6-month contract that will end in mid-December. Many are wondering what will happen when he leaves and who will fill the role.
The Sheldon's family provided the following statement about Call's dismissal:
"What we find most egregious in the whole situation is that Damon Williams was allowed to resign, and David Call is facing the outcome of potentially being fired. David Call is a good man. He was one of few people at the department who seemed genuinely upset at Jordan’s murder and more so, that he wanted to help fix the problems that exacerbated the circumstances under which Jordan died. He called for an investigation of the night Jordan was killed. It is standard practice for Law Enforcement agencies to conduct an internal review when there is an officer-involved shooting. David asked for it. We have asked for it repeatedly. Mooresville is refusing. US ISS agency is conducting an officer-involved shooting review for Pineville Police Department. Given that Mooresville has not had a fatal officer-involved shooting in 40+ years, it would seem prudent to have an outside agency conduct this investigation, as only they have the skillset to do it properly. Over the summer before he was put on leave, David approached the command staff about doing such an investigation. He was met with extremely negative responses and was reprimanded for even bringing it up. Why would a department in such turmoil refuse to review the events of the night Jordan was killed? Even more troubling is that David, perhaps the only person who demanded this investigation internally, is now at risk of being fired. While there may have been policies that David violated on paper, he was trying to do the right thing. In an environment where the chain of command was led by a corrupt chief who terrorized the employees he didn’t like, how could David follow the chain of command and expect a real response? We have asked the town repeatedly to create an anonymous reporting platform for officers to push concerns to a central area that is reviewed by the police chief, town manager, and elected officials so that nothing else falls through the cracks. Campurciani is set to leave in December. If another chief comes in and decides to run the department poorly, what will prevent another murder from happening if officers feel unsafe and the chain of command fails them too?"
A statement from an anonymous officer:
"It was disappointing to hear of the termination of Captain Call. He served as a dedicated law enforcement officer in several capacities, including as a Special Agent in Charge with the SBI, throughout his nearly 40 year career. He was one of the most genuine people within the Mooresville Police Department, who simply wanted to see the right thing done.
Without his decision to come forward with the hostile work environment complaint, none of these issues within this police department would have ever come to light publicly.
Immediately following the tragic loss of Officer Sheldon, Captain Call’s leadership and empathy showed the type of person he was. Especially when the command staff seemed to be incapable of making a decision, or just simply doing the right thing.
The lack of leadership by command staff among the Mooresville Police Department was not just a newspaper article after Officer Sheldon’s death. It was suddenly on display for the public and neighboring departments to witness.
I was never more embarrassed than having to identify as a Mooresville Police Officer during this time, knowing the command staff was suddenly recognized by other agencies as unprepared and lacking empathy.
Captain Call’s experience and compassion for this job is a huge loss for the agency and those who could have gained knowledge from him."