by Sam Hieb
In an op-ed in yesterday’s N&R, former Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight— who served from 2009-2011, says the city should pay former police chief David Wray’s legal fees related to several lawsuits filed by officers over the years:
In the past, the city has paid the legal fees of former City Manager Mitch Johnson and current Mayor Nancy Vaughan. But in Wray’s case it is resisting, citing malicious behavior on Wray’s part. A city policy says taxpayers don’t have to pay such bills if “fraud, corruption or actual malice” by a city official is involved.
Wray resigned under pressure in 2006 following dubious accusations of racial discrimination. He also hired a private attorney to defend himself against several lawsuits brought by officers and has unpaid bills totaling more than $200,000. An outside attorney hired by the city, Alan Duncan, prepared a legal brief in a parallel case that I believe exonerates Wray and the police department from anything alleged in the original complaints. There is no mention of malicious behavior in this brief; it never existed. If Duncan and city legal staff are convinced Wray acted maliciously, they must step forward and make a case to the taxpayers.
The NC Court of Appeals recently ruled in Wray’s favor in his ongoing legal fight to recover his legal fees. Supposedly the City Council will look at Wray’s personnel files when it meets tonight to determine whether or not he “acted with malice.” Considering the fact that Wray has never been convicted of a crime related to the controversy surrounding him, I would think it would be hard to prove he acted with malice.