The city of Zebulon announced Oct. 11 that they “received information and allegations” concerning chief Jonathan Hemphill and they will have an independent, third party investigate and provide the city with specific findings and recommendations.
As of press time Monday, there was no update on the investigation available from Zebulon city officials.
The investigation was prompted after chief Hemphill was pulled over by officers in Molena for having a ‘ghost tag’ and dark tint on his windows and disrespecting officers during the traffic stop. Officer body camera footage of the traffic stop was broadcast on an Atlanta station and shared widely online. Hemphill jumps out of this vehicle and says he was upset because ‘I spoke to you when I come by and now you’re pulling me over,’ meaning he flashed his blue lights when passing the officers. A female officer asked why he was being ‘hostile’ and he replied, “I don’t have to talk to you.”
According to Molena police chief Matt Polk, Hemphill was not issued a citation during the stop and the city of Molena’s police department was removed from the city of Zebulon’s emergency radio repeater five days after the Sept. 25 incident.
“The Molena Police Department swapped from the Zebulon repeater to Pike County after I was advised on September 30, 2022 that I needed to find another radio channel by chief Hemphill after he was told no disciplinary action would be taken against my officers regarding the traffic stop because after reviewing the video, it was determined they did nothing wrong,” said Polk.
A digital radio agreement between chiefs Hemphill and Polk was created on May 8, 2022 to allow the city of Molena to share Zebulon’s digital radio band. The agreement said that Hemphill agreed to share the Zebulon police band as long as Polk remained chief in Molena.
There was a large law enforcement presence during the city of Zebulon’s Oct. 11 city council meeting and several spoke in support of Hemphill.
Shannon Moulton, who worked for the Pike County Sheriff’s Office until 2013, asked that officials “slow down and look at the totality of everything to make the correct decision on Chief Hemphill because no laws have been violated.”
Zebulon mayor Joe Walter said the city’s facebook page – which is supposed to provide information for citizens – had to be shut down due to the “hatred coming from people who probably couldn’t find us on a map if they wanted to.”
After the regular council session, a closed, executive session was held for more than an hour and at the conclusion, the statement regarding the investigation of Hemphill was released.