Zebulon mayoral candidate charged, hospitalized

aspecht@newsobserver.com amoody@newsobserver.comJuly 29, 2013 

— Wake County Sheriff’s deputies took a Zebulon mayoral candidate into custody Thursday morning after he refused to go with Zebulon police who were dispatched to serve mental health papers on him.

Richard Eugene Poole Sr., 69, faces charges of resisting a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct after barricading himself in his home at 615 Sexton Ave. for more than three hours, according to a copy of the arrest warrant. Poole’s wife, Lynda, filed paperwork to commit him to a mental hospital early Thursday morning because he threatened to kill her and their adult son, who lives in Wendell, Police Chief Tim Hayworth said.

Police arrived just after 7 a.m. but did not enter Poole’s home because they had been informed three rifles were inside, according to Zebulon Police Lt. Scott Finch.

“He’d come out on the front porch, make obscene gestures trying to provoke us and then he’d run back in the house and slam the door,” Finch said.

Poole surrendered to sheriff’s deputies about 10:30 a.m. An ambulance took Poole, who complained of heart problems, to WakeMed Hospital. By Monday, he had been released from WakeMed, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Other charges

Zebulon police have filed charges against Poole three times this year.

On June 27, police arrested Poole at Wal-Mart on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer. According to the magistrate’s order, Poole was trying to provoke a fight with a customer. When Zebulon police officer Eric Anderson attempted to intervene, Poole got in his car and “floored the gas narrowly missing hitting officer Anderson with his vehicle,” the magistrate’s order says. Poole had been scheduled to appear in court on those charges Thursday morning.

In May, police charged Poole with ethnic intimidation after he allegedly used racial slurs to verbally abuse a black man working on a nearby house. When the man, Bobby Jones, attempted to flee the confrontation, Hayworth said Poole, who is white, followed Jones in his pickup and threatened him with a billy club. A judge on July 18 found Poole not guilty of the ethnic intimidation charge.

‘He hangs up on me’

Legal trouble – considered an obstacle for most political hopefuls – is at the center of Poole’s mayoral run. At two recent Zebulon Board of Commissioners meetings, Poole questioned the police department’s professionalism and criticized Hayworth by name as the police chief sat in the audience.

“Every time I call 911, they don’t do nothing,” Poole said at the June 3 meeting. “I’ve gone to the chief. He hangs up on me.”

“I believe I could watch a bank robbery, and they’d turn them loose,” Poole said at the July 1 town board meeting.

At a recent town board meeting, Poole said he was frustrated because Sgt. Ashley Dixon came to his house June 28 and tried to get his wife to commit him to “a crazy house.” Finch denied Poole’s claim.

“We talked to (Lynda Poole) about her options because she felt like his mental capacity was diminishing,” Finch said. “As far as encouraging her to commit him, no.” Lynda Poole obtained a domestic violence protection order against her husband Thursday afternoon, Finch said.

Contact with police

Real estate records show Poole, a former truck driver, has lived in Zebulon for about 15 years. Hayworth said Poole contacted Zebulon police “on an occasional basis” prior to 2012, but that the department’s interaction with him had “really escalated” in the last few months. Records provided by Finch show that Poole has contacted Zebulon police more than 30 times since October 2012 to level a complaint. Poole told Zebulon commissioners he planned to attend their meetings until the board reformed the police department.

Poole has also criticized the Eastern Wake News for “printing lies” when writing about his arrest for ethnic intimidation. On June 18, Poole filed a misdemeanor trespassing charge against Eastern Wake News managing editor Johnny Whitfield because Poole didn’t want the free twice-weekly paper thrown in his driveway. That charge was dismissed.

Poole is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 1 to respond to the protection order against him. He’s scheduled to face the most recent criminal charges against him in court on Aug. 22.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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