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Man pleads guilty to assaulting police officer in Burke County

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — A former Morganton public safety officer fought back tears as a man pleaded guilty Thursday to an assault in 2019 that led to the end of his law enforcement career.

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The incident happened during a traffic stop for speeding in Burke County.

Joseph Jones’ law enforcement career with Morganton Public Safety ended at the age of 31 during what started as a routine traffic stop for speeding. Prosecutors said when Jones went up to the car the driver, Richard Carpenter, struck him with his door and then appeared to reach for a weapon leading to a more than three-minute struggle in the vehicle.

“As soon as I got up to him, he started cussing me out, hit me with his door and then proceeded to resist me,” Jones said. “I believe he was reaching for a knife in his passenger seat, and he hit me in the back of the head and the neck that caused me to have a stroke.”

Carpenter pleaded guilty to assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and speeding.

He avoided jail time in a negotiated plea deal with prosecutors.

Public safety officers said they followed protocol and submitted the body cam video of the arrest to prosecutors. But defense attorneys said in court that the video no longer exists.

Jones said he is grateful for all the help he’s received from coworkers while spending seven months in rehab. He’s had to adjust to permanently losing feeling in an arm and a leg.

“They’ve been like family the whole time, between fundraisers helping me, helping my wife, coming and mowing the grass, things like that,” Jones said “It’s just a big family.”

The charges were all misdemeanors.

The judge sentenced Carpenter to 24 months of probation and 96 hours of community service.

Jones said he forgives Carpenter.

“I forgive him because I know my God,” Jones said. “If he asked for forgiveness, we have to give it.”

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