Regular Policy Watch readers will be familiar with our recent series on the for-profit bail bond industry, its dangers and flaws.
A recent shooting by a bail agent – now facing multiple charges – now joins a long list of arrests, convictions and predatory behavior that has come
From the Winston-Salem Journal story:
Thermon Desmond Sellers, 31, of Elderbank Drive in Charlotte, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, discharging a firearm into an occupied moving vehicle and violating a city ordinance by discharging a firearm within city limits, the Winston-Salem Police Department said in a news release.
Capt. Steve Tollie of the Winston-Salem Police Department said Sellers turned himself in at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. He was released on a $250,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Forsyth District Court on Thursday. He made a first appearance in Forsyth District Court on Monday, where a judge formally read out the charges against him and informed him of his right to an attorney.
The shots were fired about 7:15 p.m. March 17 outside Hanes Mall. Sellers was one of two bail bondsmen who were attempting to take into custody Nathaniel Artillery Taylor, who had several outstanding warrants. Winston-Salem police have not named the other bondsman. Tollie said that bondsman does not face any criminal charges.
As we’ve written previously, licensed bail agents do enjoy some police-like powers in North Carolina. They can use reasonable force to apprehend a person for whom they have provided bail, even if they have not yet forfeited their bond. They can use force to “overcome resistance of a third party who impedes their efforts to apprehend a person on bond.”
A U.S. Supreme Court case from 1866 even allows them to break and enter a home to recover a suspect without a warrant. But bail agents aren’t granted any special powers with regard to carrying or using guns. Bail agents who choose to do so must be licensed in the same manner as any typical civilian. They can, and often are, charged with discharging their weapons in public, even when they do so in commission of their duties.
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, whose department regulates the industry, issued a statement about the Winston-Salem case.
“I will not condone, nor will I tolerate any actions by bail agents that put the public in danger, particularly in such as public place as a large shopping mall parking lot,” Causey said in the statement.