LUMBERTON — One of the African American pastors who called for a boycott of The Robesonian for what they said was biased and degrading coverage of Robeson County sheriff candidate Ronnie Patterson has been caught in a lie concerning a recent encounter with a South Carolina police officer.
The Rev. Jerrod Moultrie, pastor of Oakgrove Missionary Baptist Church in Fairmont, was stopped April 12 in Timmonsville, S.C., by police Officer Chris Miles for not using a turn signal while making a left turn.
At 3:53 a.m. on April 13, Moultrie posted on Facebook, “Tonight I was racially profiled by Timmonsville officer cause I was driving a Mercedes Benz and going home in a nice neighborhood. But you know tomorrow they will hear from me.”
In his Facebook account of the traffic stop Moultrie, who also is president of the Timmonsville NAACP chapter, writes that Miles asked him if he had drugs, whose vehicle he was driving, where he works and why he was in the neighborhood.
The Facebook account reads in part:
“Me: I am a pastor and I live in the house on the left.”
“Officer: And I guess I am the Bill Gates.”
The Facebook post was later deleted.
The encounter between Moultrie and Officer Miles was recorded by Miles’ body cam. The Timmonsville Police Department released the video.
The video shows Miles did not ask Moultrie if he had drugs, whose car he was driving, where he worked and why he was in the neighborhood. The video also shows the name Bill Gates was not spoken during the encounter.
Miles, who is shown in the video as being calm and professional during the encounter, did tell Moultrie that the registration he produced came back as belonging to a GMC truck. Moultrie told Miles the dealer put the information on the vehicle’s paperwork and told him the registration would come back as belonging to the Mercedes Benz.
“The dealer told you wrong,” Miles is heard saying.
Miles advised Moultrie he should not drive the Mercedes until he has obtained the proper registration information from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. The body cam video shows a subdued Moultrie agreeing to do so.
No ticket was issued.
According to the Florence (S.C.) Morning News, Timmonsville Police Chief Billy Brown said he was surprised when he heard of Moultrie’s allegations because they are counter to Miles’ character. He was out of the office when he heard of the allegations but got his captain to look at the body cam video to see what happened, the chief said.
“And my captain called me back and pretty much said chief, what he (Moultrie) said happened didn’t happen at all,” Brown said.
He accepted what the captain said but needed to see the video for himself, Brown said.
Moultrie’s false allegations of racial profiling need to be made public, Brown said.
“But I think by him being the president of NAACP for the Timmonsville area, that it needs to be out to the public for the simple reason, if and when something else happens, they need to be able to look at the credibility of who’s presenting it,” Brown said. “I mean, if he lied about this to us, he’ll lie about anything to anyone. I just don’t think we need his type of representation.”
The Robesonian called Moultrie and he answered the phone, telling the reporter he was busy and would call back. He did not before the deadline for this edition of the paper.
Timmonsville Councilman Curtis Harris, who is affiliated with the NAACP, said he did not believe Moultrie’s allegations “have any basis of truth in it.” He is very disappointed, Harris said.
The Timmonsville community did not vote to have Moultrie lead the NAACP chapter, Harris said. Moultrie instead was appointed by South Carolina NAACP President Dwight C. James after the Timmonsville chapter became defunct, the councilman said.
The press conference during which Moultrie and other religious leaders called for a boycott of The Robesonian and its advertisers took place April 27 outside the Lumber River Missionary Baptist Association in Lumberton. It was attended by about 50 people.
During the press conference, Moultrie referred to an editorial in The Robesonian that was critical of the practice of hauling voters to the polls and said voters who are exercising their rights as citizens have been “dehumanized.”
Moultrie also said The Robesonian is guilty of “voter intimidation,” and asked the newspaper to stop using its influence in the May 8 primary election.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected] The Florence (S.C.) Morning News contributed to this report.