Former Sylva Police officer charged with misdemeanor assault
On Feb. 15, 2021, the Sylva Police Department became aware of an allegation of excessive force by then SPD Officer Patrick “Eli” Trantham involving an arrestee.
According to a Sylva Police Deparetment press release, upon learning about the accusation, Chief Chris Hatton called for two investigations into the alleged incident — an administrative investigation and a criminal investigation. The administrative — or internal — investigation was conducted by members of Sylva Police Department's leadership. The goal of this investigation was to determine if any department policies were violated during this situation. The second investigation requested by Hatton was a criminal investigation. The goal of this investigation was to determine if any violations of criminal law occurred, which was looked into by the State Bureau of Investigation.
On Feb. 16, 2021, the Sylva Police Department continued to complete the appropriate investigative steps and gather facts about the situation. Chief Hatton met with Trantham. Trantham was suspended during the pre-disciplinary meeting. The administrative investigation was concluded on this date, and a final disciplinary meeting was scheduled with Trantham for the next day.
On Feb. 17, 2021, Trantham resigned his employment in the morning hours before the scheduled meeting. The release notes that the meeting would have resulted in the termination of Trantham's employment with the Town of Sylva. Trantham began employment with the Town of Sylva on Oct.29, 2019, and had not been the subject of any previous complaints or investigations.
Chief Hatton issued the following statement:
“The leadership of the Sylva Police Department took this matter serious from the minute it came to light. We believe being held accountable should be a critical core value for all law enforcement agencies, including our own. The Sylva Police Department requested the external investigation by the NCSBI, and we fully cooperated with every step of this investigation. We acted with urgency to assure this incident was handled properly, without delay, and by the appropriate agency. Our community can trust their police department to do what is right when accusations such as this are made. My staff and I appreciate the hard work of both the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and the NCSBI in this matter.”
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There is nothing in the article itself to support the headline of a misdemeanor assault charge.