UNC-Chapel Hill’s Chief of Police, David Perry, has resigned according to a statement from the university.
“UNC Police Department Assistant Chief/Captain Rahsheem Holland, who has served as acting police chief since mid-May, will continue in that capacity. We will conduct a national search for the next UNC police chief, the details of which will be announced at a later date,” George Battle, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Integrity and Risk Management said in a statement.
No reason was provided for Perry’s decision, and he has yet to respond to requests for comment. He had been on leave since May, after having undergone what he described as a major surgical procedure.
Perry’s initial hiring in 2019 drew criticism from some quarters due to his involvement in a controversy during his previous job. As Policy Watch reported at the time:
Perry comes to UNC from Florida State University, where his tenure as chief of police included criticism of the handling of two rape allegations against Jameis Winston, then FSU’s quarterback and later a player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The handling of the 2012 rape allegations and Perry’s actions specifically were criticized at the time. The controversy was the subject of reports from the New York Times and featured in the Emmy nominated documentary “The Hunting Ground,” about the epidemic of sexual assaults on American college campuses.
The Times investigation found “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”
In what may or may not have been a coincidence, today’s news comes just days after a high-profile UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees meeting at which police clashed with demonstrators who were protesting the treatment of of prospective Journalism School hire Nikole Hannah-Jones and at which the board ultimately voted to offer her tenure. UNC Police pushed demonstrators out of the room after they refused to leave when the board went into closed session. Julia Clark, vice president of UNC’s Black Student Movement, said that Officer Holland, who now serves as acting chief, struck her in the face. A video of the incident appears to confirm her claim.
At 40 seconds there is actual footage of UNCPD Officer Holland punching me in the face and knocking off my mask completely.
This is how our university treats Black students. We were completely unarmed asking for the bare minimum. Transparency. I am exhausted and traumatized. https://t.co/gDsbbCxKCh
— Julia Clark?? (@jc_1303) June 30, 2021
Following the meeting, Battle released a statement defending the officer’s actions and saying that no injuries were sustained.
“After the board voted to move into closed session pursuant to the North Carolina open meetings law, the demonstrators remained for a few minutes to express themselves. UNC Police then instructed the group to depart, and most did,” Battle’s statement said. “A small number of individuals did not leave the meeting when asked. UNC Police followed protocol and moved those protestors into the hall. We respect the right of our community to peacefully express themselves, but the law is clear that demonstrators cannot disrupt public meetings and proceedings. The situation was resolved with no injuries and proceedings were able to continue without further interruption. The officers on the scene dispute the allegation made by the demonstrators, however anytime an individual makes a claim of excessive force, UNC Police will review the claim.”
Following the meeting, Clark posted photos of bruises on her face and arms. Other students said they had been punched by UNCPD officers as well.