WADESBORO, N.C. — The Wadesboro police chief said his department is investigating one of its officers after an inflammatory photo was posted showing a sergeant flashing what appears to be the white power sign.
Sgt. Thomas Luckey and his wife posed flashing the gesture associated with white supremacy. The couple was with their son on the soccer field for Senior Night at Richmond County Senior High School.
Two dozen residents in Wadesboro told Channel 9 the photo is only a snapshot that shows what they’ve already experienced with Luckey.
“I was so shocked that he did it so publicly. I wasn’t shocked that he did it because we all know his history and pretty much his mindset,” said Jerffery Bennett, a local business owner.
The image captures much more, County Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant said. There is a long history of racist allegations against Luckey. She said he was recently caught on video using racial slurs toward young Black men and was placed on administrative leave.
“He should have been terminated. It’s been going on too long,” said Sturdivant.
Residents said they have encountered Luckey where there were beatings, racial profiling, unwarranted traffic stops and searches and unlawful arrests.
Charges were later dismissed.
“Something needs to be done about him. He shouldn’t be on the force. His job is to protect and serve, and that’s not what he’s doing,” said Shonda, wiping tears away.
The display of white supremacy makes many fearful for their safety.
“I could go to work and not come home,” said Bennett.
The safety of Black children in the community is also a major concern.
“Our complaints are falling on deaf ears. We’re just helpless or hurt or angry,” said Tamra Garris, a nurse. “But the only thing we can do is deal with it.”
Garris said the people who Luckey is supposed to protect and serve don’t feel protected at all.
“We aren’t asking anything of him other than to live up to the oath you took. And if you can’t, then step down from your job, sir, please and thank you,” she said.
The Rev. Judy Little wants to see action, and her community to heal because she fears what could happen next.
“We’re going to have another George Floyd, and we don’t want that in Anson County,” said Little.
Sturdivant said the alleged racism and abuse can no longer be tolerated and swept under the rug in Anson County.
“The mayor, the town council, the chief of police. If it’s a place, it’s time something be done,” said Sturdivant.
Channel 9 asked the chief for an interview. He said in a statement that the department is taking the investigation seriously and that it was confidential.
The town manager told Channel 9 that Luckey is on paid administrative leave while they investigate.
Richmond County Schools told Channel 9 that since the photo was taken at a school sporting event, they spoke to the parents involved.
In a statement to the Richmond County Observer, Luckey said the photo was a family prank and said it was the “circle game,” which he and his family have been playing for years.