Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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Assault charge dismissed against businessman who was arrested while dining in downtown Graham during BLM protest

He says all he did was push protester’s megaphone out of his face; he agreed to 8 hours of community service to get charge dropped

The Alamance County district attorney’s office has dismissed an assault charge against a Graham businessman, who was arrested last fall while dining with his family and several friends in downtown Graham during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Richard “Rick” Hurlocker, of 1724 Petty Road, Graham, who owns Truck and Trailer in Graham, said in an interview this week that he, his wife, their sons, and several friends had been dining at the Passion Grill on Court Square on September 26, 2020, when he was charged with assaulting a BLM protester.

“We were sitting there, and all the excitement was going on – we just stepped outside to see what was going on,” Hurlocker recalled Tuesday in an interview with The Alamance News.

Out of the blue, one of the protesters “started cussing” him, while another, whom he identified as “Shon Green,” struck him in the face with a megaphone, as other protesters gathered around, screaming that the 59-year-old businessman, who is white, was a racist, Hurlocker recalled during an interview with The Alamance News this week.

Regis Kishon Green, 28, black male, is listed as the alleged victim, according to Hurlocker’s court file.  (The court file for the assault charge against Hurlocker lists Green’s address as Greenville, N.C.; other court files for several pending protest-related charges against Green list his address as Durham.)

“[the protester] was out there with the megaphone and popped me in the face. I just knocked it [the megaphone] out of my face.” – defendant richard hurlocker

“Green was out there with the megaphone and popped me in the face,” Hurlocker elaborated.  “I just knocked it [the megaphone] out of my face.”  Hurlocker said a Graham police officer who was patrolling the downtown area at the time had responded to the scene and later charged him with a single count of misdemeanor simple assault.  “Green never pressed charges on me; it was the officer,” Hurlocker said Tuesday.

After he rejoined his companions inside the restaurant, Hurlocker said the Graham police officer came inside the restaurant and asked him, “‘What’s your story?’” he said, acknowledging that her tone “kind of made me mad.”

The responding officer went outside and asked Green what had happened but never questioned any of the other diners inside the restaurant, Hurlocker said.  Green told the Graham police officer that Hurlocker had hit him in his mouth – with the same megaphone that Green had been wielding.

“We had a recording, where she went outside and asked the guy what happened,” before asking Green whether he wanted her to call an ambulance for him, Hurlocker recalled.

The next thing he knew, the Graham police officer was telling Hurlocker to put his hands behind his back, that he was under arrest, he told the newspaper Tuesday. “There were people spitting at me,” as he was led out of the restaurant in handcuffs.  “They really [did] a citizen wrong,” Hurlocker added.

The crowd was drawn to the southwest corner of Court Square where the Passion Grill is located when one of the protesters “hit a lady’s car with a flag,” Hurlocker recalled this week.  “There really [weren’t] a whole lot of people, but that’s what drew the whole crowd out.”

Hurlocker confirmed for the newspaper that he had originally planned to represent himself in court and plead guilty, just to put it behind him, but others convinced him of the need to preserve his reputation.  “Everybody said, ‘you’re a community guy, a business guy,” he said, confirming that he had no prior criminal record and that he later hired Graham attorney Anthony (“Tony”) DiLello to defend him against the charge.

DiLello confirmed in a separate interview with The Alamance News that he had recently negotiated “the terms of what [Hurlocker] had to do to obtain a dismissal” with the D.A.’s office.

To get the charge dismissed, Hurlocker said he was required to perform eight hours of community service, which he said he’d completed last month at his church.

Video footage recorded during the confrontation in September substantiated his client’s account of the chain of events that led to his arrest, DiLello told the newspaper this week.  Hurlocker had stepped outside the restaurant to tell some friends, who had been waiting outside to join the couple and their children for dinner, “they could come on in,” the attorney said Tuesday.

DiLello said he had reviewed the video, which showed Green striking Hurlocker’s ear with his megaphone, at which point a Graham police officer escorted Hurlocker back inside the restaurant.

“The crowd outside was chanting obscenities, telling Graham police to lock his [expletive] up – that was on the video,” DiLello said of the video footage.  He confirmed that Green, the alleged victim in the case, had not appeared during the hearing in district court Tuesday morning.

DiLello said he plans to advise Hurlocker to ask for the charge to be expunged from his record, which now lists the single count of misdemeanor simple assault having been dismissed.  Expunction will erase any record of the charge entirely, the attorney explained.

“I think they just arrested me to appease the crowd; they had a whole restaurant full of people telling her [the arresting officer], ‘he didn’t do anything.’” – defendant richard hurlocker

Hurlocker said what bothers him most about the episode isn’t the hefty bill for his defense, or his belief that he never should’ve been charged.  “I think they just arrested me to appease the crowd; they had a whole restaurant full of people telling her [the arresting officer], ‘he didn’t do anything.’”

Rather, Hurlocker said the worst part is the unfounded accusation that he’s a racist. He said several drivers he works with – who are black – were “very concerned” when they learned about his arrest but have maintained their support for him and his business, he said. “It’s such an easy thing to scream,” he added.  “These people don’t know us.  We’ll help anybody – it doesn’t matter what color.”

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