Three Durham police officers arrested in off-duty brawl

POSTED: 4:21 PM Jan 30 2013   UPDATED: 11:51 PM Jan 18 2013
Three Durham police officers arrested in off-duty brawl

Six people, including three Durham police officers, were arrested early Friday following a disturbance call involving an alleged larceny.

Officers responded to a disturbance call shortly before 1 a.m. Friday on Trevor Circle. A few minutes later they were dispatched to a related call on Landis Drive. Investigators learned that the disturbance involved an earlier alleged larceny of an iPhone, a wallet containing police identification, and a coat from a club on Ninth Street.

Durham Police Lt. Ryan A. Freeman, Durham Police Officer Stacy L. Armstrong and Durham Police Officer Erin V. Espinola were all charged with one count of false imprisonment and one count of assault.

In addition, Armstrong was charged with two counts of misdemeanor breaking and entering and Freeman and Espinola were each charged with one count of breaking and entering.

All three officers, who were off duty when the incident occurred, are currently on administrative leave.

In addition, police charged 30-year-old Jessica Lobaugh, of Timberlake, 32-year-old Benjamin Brackett, of Timberlake and 30-year-old Jennifer Norton, of Rougemont, each with one count of assault and one count of misdemeanor breaking and entering.

"We take all matters involving alleged officer misconduct very seriously. These allegations are being thoroughly investigated," said Durham Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr. in a statement. "Although these three officers have been charged, I want to stress to the community that these actions are not indicative of our organization. Although all parties were acquaintances, we believe this was an isolated incident."

According to investigators, several people allegedly pushed their way into a residence in an attempt to retrieve the property. During the disturbance, a male was subsequently chased to another location, where he was allegedly assaulted.

The charges were filed Friday afternoon after an investigation by the Durham Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division.

The criminal investigation is ongoing and more charges may be filed.

The Durham Police Department's Professional Standards Division is also conducting an internal investigation.

The three police officers were each released on a $4,000 bond. They'll appear in court Feb. 19.

The three others charged were given written promises to appear. They'll face a judge for the first time on Feb. 14.

--For more information, visit WTVD