Audio of a white sheriff threatening to fire his “Black bastard” staff members has been made public. Now, the state Bureau of Investigation has confirmed an investigation has been launched, looking into his conduct.
On Monday, Sept 26, WECT revealed it received a recording of a fiery 2019 conversation between Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene and then-Captain Jason Soles about his African-American staffers that he believed leaked information to his political opponent about his eligibility to serve as top cop in the town.
Greene called his employees snitches as he ranted about feeling betrayed and wanting to “clean house.”
“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these Black bastards,” the sheriff is caught telling Soles. “I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”
The telephone conversation was about Lewis Hatcher and his supporters within his department. Greene wanted to know who had shared ammunition with his opponent during their hard-fought election race for sheriff.
Though Greene was the victor over the incumbent Hatcher, who is Black, he wanted to weed out those workers who aligned with the other candidate.
He also wanted information on Melvin Campbell, a Black sergeant working in the office at the time. Only two months into his career as sheriff, Greene felt his first few weeks had been rocky because of several scandals.
The biggest scandal was Hatcher’s protesting over his narrow win of 34 votes. The concern was especially high as voter fraud in that part of North Carolina had made national headlines.
Another scandal was about Greene’s actual address. The state law requires the sheriff to live inside of the county he or she would serve. Many were calling for him to reveal his residency. The last scandal was about Greene being improperly sworn in before the state certified the election results.
As a result of the investigations, Green was temporarily removed from the position, and Soles was promoted as acting sheriff as the judge decided who should rightfully be sheriff.
Soles’ “promotion” also did not sit well with Greene as he wanted his chief deputy, Aaron Herring, to serve as the interim sheriff. However, Herring’s past record of using excessive force and violating the civil rights of African-Americans when he was a Whiteville Police officer, even being arrested for punching a suspect in the face while he was handcuffed while in police custody, made him unfit for the role.
The four issues agitated Greene, and it spilled into the phone call with Soles, who started recording the conversation because it was racist in tone.
According to Soles, after his appointment Greene would start calling him late in the night to vent about his plight.
“This one particular phone call that [I] received, he made the comment that he hated Democrats. And then he said, ‘I take that back. I hate a Black f***ing Democrat.’ And, and I knew right then, I was like, ‘Wow, this is coming from the sheriff.’ And, I had to start recording those conversations,” he said.
The recording is 6½ minutes and is said to have taken place in February 2019. Greene says on the call that he has already contacted Verizon to see which of his workers may have received or made calls to Hatcher or Campbell over the first few months of the year — after he was sworn in.
Greene can be heard saying, “They’re gone. This is as fair as I’m going to be. Just giving you a heads-up, that’s coming. When me and [attorney] Boyd [Worley] and [wife] Angie [Greene] go through it tomorrow, the first numbers we see, they’re gone. They ain’t going to make it, brother.”
“I’m telling you, they might as well find somewhere else to go. Because if you ain’t with me – I ain’t referring to you – but if they’re not with me, they’re against me. And they’re gone. And that’s just how it’s going to be,” he continued. “Clarity – whatever her name is, I don’t trust her. Dawn says she’s racist… If I have to fire every mother f***er out there, guess what?” Greene can be heard saying at the beginning of the recording.”
Adding, “I’m tired of them f***ing with me. It ain’t happening no more.”
“No godd**n more. So you let them know, if I find their numbers in the next day or two, they ain’t going to like it. They damn sure ain’t going to like it. And that’s got to be somebody in the command staff. Clarity. I don’t trust her,” Greene continues, apparently talking about Augustine Clarida, a former African-American county detention officer. “She’s just sitting there staring at me the other day, the whole time. Staring at me the whole f**ing time.”
“Tomorrow’s gonna be a new f**king day. I’m still the motherf**king sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every godd**n [inaudible]. F**k them, Black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid,” Greene snapped. “I don’t know what else to do it. So it’s just time to clean them out. There’s a snitch in there somewhere tellin’ what we are doing. And I’m not gonna have it. I’m not going to have it.”
Greene then said he wanted to fire anyone “guilty by f**king association” with Campbell or Hatcher.
“We’ll cut the snake’s head f**king off. Period. And Melvin Campbell is as big a snake as Lewis Hatcher ever dared to be. Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake,” Greene declares before ending the call.
Eventually, a court (which was not privy to the recording) allowed Greene to keep this position. However, once in, he demoted two African-Americans on his command staff: Lt. Jeremy Barber and Captain Clementine Thompson. He eventually fired Thompson.
He also fired Campbell, the sergeant he called a “snake” within months of him being sworn in.
Campbell said, “Aaron [Herring] called me to the office and say my services are no longer needed.” He didn’t understand why until he heard the recording, and it was clear.
“It kind of shocked me. That that came out his mouth. I thought we was friends,” said the former sergeant who worked under Greene for 30 years at the North Carolina Highway Patrol. “I really did think we was friends. But with friends like that, who needs enemies?”
Soles sat on the audio for three years before releasing it. Now running for Columbus County Sheriff against Jody Greene, he said he was bringing it to light because he wants the public to be aware that his opponent is a racist and his feelings about Blacks would impact the fairness of how he treats people that work for him and the people he serves.
This is especially important as the US Census Date shows Black people make up only 30 percent of the Columbus County population, whereas whites are the majority at 64 percent.
He said before this upcoming election, he tried to share his information with elected officials, hoping they would intervene and address his embedded racial bias and abuse of power.
Soles noted he submitted the recording to the Columbus County Commissioners during a recess of one of their meetings but only one person reached back, and his cry seemed to fall on “deaf ears.”
A year and a half ago, Soles said an agent with the SBI came to meet with him about the audio and Greene’s racially charged comments. They also seemed concerned but needed the District Attorney or the Attorney General’s office to request an investigation.
Soles said, “I was told to just keep documenting everything that happens so that we would have a paper trail of it. And we did.”
He and his team continued to gather evidence of Greene’s improper conduct, including multiple complaints filed with the State Boards of Elections regarding the sheriff.
VICE reports North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s public information director confirmed this week District Attorney Jon David has requested that the agency investigate allegations of obstruction of justice concerning the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.
The NAACP has released a statement asking for his immediate resignation.
President Deborah Dicks Maxwell of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and Curtis Hill, President of the Columbus County Branch of the NAACP said in a joint statement, “Sheriff Jody Greene must resign. His language is divisive, nasty, and offensive— his words are disparaging and hurtful to people of color. His actions have cast a cloud over his ability to execute the office with impartiality.
He said he felt bad that he had to share the tape with the press but had no other choice. No one was listening to him.
“It broke my heart. Because that’s not what I believe in. It upset me to the fact that I did have to start recording his phone calls. And I’m not wanting to go around recording people’s conversation,” Soles said. “But… this was not the leader that we needed leading the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office making these racial slurs.”
In his defense, Greene took to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page to cast doubt on the recording.
“On September 26, 2022, I was contacted by WECT and informed that my opponent, Jason Soles, in the Sheriff’s race made a recording of an alleged conversation that occurred in 2019,” he wrote. “At the alleged time the recording was made, Soles was a Captain in my command staff at the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.”
Further claiming this is a part of a mudslinging campaign to tear him down, he stated: “When Soles announced his candidacy for Sheriff, the Republican GOP of Columbus County was contacted by the Soles camp and expressed they wanted to run a clean smear free campaign. From the alleged 2019 recordings Soles just released, it is clear he has other methods in mind.
“If Soles has had these alleged recordings since 2019, why would he intentionally hold the recordings? Why would he want to release them almost four years later? What purpose does it serve? The only thing Soles has on his agenda is to be Sheriff at all costs necessary. If Soles truly wanted unity and peace this would have been an issue at the time of the alleged recording not right before an election.”
He then suggested the audio was edited and that the full call was over eight minutes.
Offering, “In my opinion, Jason’s intent with the recording was to further incite racial division and to use the racial division to pursue his personal agenda of a political run for office. I feel the recording is a personal attack, an attack on my accomplishments as Sheriff, and an attempt to discredit the successful work of the Sheriff’s Office for the last four years.”
Saying, “I adamantly deny any racial intent or actions on my part,” even though he admitted to using “expletive language.”
“[I] deny using it with malice intent,” Greene wrote.