Police chief firing may be tied to investigation of former officer

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

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HAMLET, N.C. —

A former police officer in Richmond County is under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, and Eyewitness News has learned it is tied to the firing of the police chief.

City Manager Marchell David fired Chief John Haywood on Sept. 7 for failure to perform his duties and "misuse and gross negligence in the handling of city funds and property."

Eyewitness News learned the termination is tied to the actions of another veteran officer, Michael Veach.

Veach was reportedly in charge of selling seized vehicles to a scrapyard, and city officials said Haywood did not properly report the money from the car sales.

City officials confirmed Haywood did not do anything illegal, although SBI agents have been called in to probe Veach's actions.

Haywood was one month shy of his 20th anniversary with the department, and some residents question if the city manager's decision was too harsh.

"I love the chief of police. He's been good to me, good to this community, good to the city of Hamlet, so what's there? We don't know," said resident Tony Nicholas.

Hamlet City Hall has faced controversy before. Two months before Haywood's firing, city officials voted unanimously to appoint a city councilman who has pleaded guilty to a felony crime.

Councilman Dewey Brower served probation after pleading guilty to felony bribery in 2003.

According to court records, Brower accepted a $500 bribe for a driver's license when he worked with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Brower currently runs a taxi service in Hamlet. Residents were shocked to learn about his past.

"Wow, I didn't know that. We didn't know that. We do a lot of business with Mr. Brower," said resident Ronald Zachary.

Channel 9's attempts to contact him and ask about his position on Haywood's firing were unsuccessful.

Haywood also did not return calls from Eyewitness News.