Raleigh, NC – The family of murdered Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd has accused the sheriff of handling the slain deputy’s funeral and the investigation into his death with callousness and indifference and alleged he retaliated against the deputies who helped them in the wake of the deadly shooting by reassigning and demoting them.
Deputy Byrd, 48, was fatally shot multiple times while out on patrol on Aug. 11.
His fellow deputies found his partner, K9 Sasha, unharmed and sitting alone in their patrol SUV when they arrived at the scene of the attack.
The alleged gunmen, brothers Arturo Marin-Sotelo and Alder Alphonso Marin, were arrested in Burke County on Aug. 18 and have been charged with Deputy Byrd’s murder, WTVD reported.
Both suspects are illegal immigrants who came into the U.S. via the southern border, according to Breitbart.
Deputy Byrd, a U.S. Air Force veteran, served the WCSO for 13 years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Deputy Byrd’s family held a press conference on Saturday to discuss Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker’s handling of the Aug. 11 shooting investigation, as well as decisions he made in its wake, WRAL reported.
When Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd was found killed early Friday morning, his K9, Sasha, was still in his patrol car. Friends of Deputy Byrd tell me the two had a bond like no other. @WNCN pic.twitter.com/f3HO3ewKS2
— Deana Harley (@Deanaharleynews) August 14, 2022
According to sheriff’s office records, three of Deputy Byrd’s fellow WCSO K9 deputies were transferred out of the specialized K9 Unit in the weeks after his murder.
One deputy was reassigned as a school resource officer and another was reassigned to the Tactical Response Team, WRAL reported.
WCSO K9 Deputy Devin Richardson was pulled from the unit and reassigned to the jail facility as a detention officer – a move that many have claimed is widely understood to be a demotion, according to the news outlet.
Other deputies at the WCSO said Deputy Richardson had not asked for the transfer and that he was devastated over being pulled from the K9 Unit.
Deputy Richardson, a close friend of Deputy Byrd, helped the slain hero’s family settle in after they traveled to Raleigh in the wake of his death, WRAL reported.
Although the sheriff is the one who typically takes the flag draping the coffin and presents it to the family, Deputy Byrd’s family asked Deputy Richardson to perform the honor.
Rest In Peace Dep Ned Byrd of Wake County SO, who was shot & killed on 8/11/22 while responding to a call of suspicious activity. He was found shot multiple times, his K9 partner was still in their patrol car. He was a 13 year veteran. Please retweet to honor him #BlueLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/OqxDPyVqXi
— Angel L Maysonet🇵🇷🇺🇸👮🏻♂️💙🖤 (@bigricanman) August 13, 2022
Deputy Byrd’s family said they believe Sheriff Baker felt slighted and that he demoted Deputy Richard in retaliation.
“I chose for it not to be him because he wasn’t up front and center with me when I got here,” the slain deputy’s sister, Mignon Perkins, told WRAL. “It was the K9 unit that was by my side. I chose one of them. I think he feels disrespected, but I don’t care.”
Sheriff Baker did not provide details regarding the reassignments, but said he was doing what was best for the department, WRAL reported.
“…reassignments have taken place and result from the needs of this office in serving this county,” the sheriff said in a written statement. “Additionally, reassignments broaden the experiences of deputies as they advance in their law enforcement careers.”
He refused to address questions about why specific deputies were reassigned.
“As to the decision regarding specific officers, as you are well aware, this would violate North Carolina General Statute provisions protecting personnel privacy,” Sheriff Baker told WRAL. “No further comment regarding this matter. Thank you for your inquiry.”
The funeral home that prepared Deputy Byrd’s body for burial said they received paperwork from the WCSO instructing them to return the murdered deputy’s uniform, nameplate, and various other sheriff’s office property.
“You can cut the pants and shirt if needed,” a handwritten note on the directive read.
Perkins was outraged over the request.
“This office requested to have all his uniform back. Requested that we cut it off of him before he goes to be cremated,” she told WRAL. “Including his brass. Everything.”
Sheriff Baker ultimately backtracked on the directive, thereby permitting Deputy Byrd’s uniform to remain on his body, and gave the slain deputy’s personal items to his family.
Deputy Byrd’s family has also demanded to know why Sheriff Baker turned down offers from at least three Wake County agencies who offered to help out so more deputies would be able to attend Deputy Byrd’s funeral, WRAL reported.
“Why did you deny outside agencies assistance to allow any members to attend a funeral and say goodbye?” the murdered deputy’s uncle, Walter Penny, asked during the press conference. “Why did the men and women who were on the scene on that horrible night not have one work day off to grieve?”
Sheriff Baker did not immediately respond to WRAL’s request for comment following the family’s press conference on Saturday, but he did release a statement one day earlier.
“The family of Deputy Ned Byrd and his memory have, throughout this tragic ordeal, been treated with the utmost respect by me and this office,” the sheriff said at the time.
“We, alongside multiple law enforcement agencies, have worked tirelessly to bring the murderers to justice, preserve the integrity in criminal investigation, and will continue to do so in preparing this case for prosecution,” he added.
Sheriff Baker lost the recent Democratic primary and will wrap up his term in December, WRAL reported.
Multiple other former WCSO employees have sued for wrongful termination during Sheriff Baker’s tenure, according to the news outlet.
One lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, another settled for monetary compensation, and a third lawsuit filed by two deputies was still pending.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) have demanded that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas provide details about the illegal immigrants accused of murdering the veteran deputy, Breitbart reported.
They have also asked DHS to hand over information on the suspects’ 18-year-old brother, Rolando Marin Sotelo, who was arrested on an illegal firearm possession charge.
Like his brothers, he is also an illegal immigrant, Breitbart reported.
“In light of the serious nature of this matter, we request that you transmit to our offices the alien files and all relevant and pertinent information for the following individuals: Arturo Marin Sotelo, Alder Alfonso Marin Sotelo, Rolando Marin-Sotelo,” Budd and Tillis told Mayorkas.
“We are deeply concerned by the public reporting by local news media that is currently available about these individuals,” they said. “We look forward to your swift response to our concerns as we seek answers for why this heinous crime was committed and whether it could have been prevented by immigration enforcement.”