Jackson to appeal 10-day jail sentence after guilty verdict
By Peter Williams and William F. West
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
HERTFORD — A Hertford town councilor is appealing a judge’s verdict that he’s guilty of resisting a police officer — delaying the judge’s order he spend 10 days in jail.
District Judge Edgar Barnes imposed the active jail sentence on Town Councilor Quentin Jackson after finding him guilty on Wednesday of resisting a Hertford police officer during a recent traffic stop. The 10-day jail sentence will not be imposed, however, until after Jackson’s appeal is resolved.
In testimony before Barnes on Wednesday, Hertford police Detective A.J. Awad said he stopped Jackson’s SUV on Feb. 1 because the councilman was using a cardboard popcorn box as a license tag. During the traffic stop, Awad said Jackson got of his SUV and walked toward him, yelling at him as he approached.
Awad testified he warned Jackson to get back in his SUV at least five times. After Jackson refused to obey his order a fifth time, Awad said he charged the councilman with resisting a police officer and took him into custody.
Jackson, who defended himself in court on Wednesday, maintained that the testimony of Awad and Sgt. Kenneth Lynch, a police officer who arrived to assist Awad, didn’t match. He also told Barnes that his arrest was part of a plan to derail his political career. Jackson, who was elected to the Hertford Town Council in November, has announced he may run as a Democrat for the open legislative seat in the 1st House District.
Barnes ruled that Awad had probable cause to stop Jackson’s SUV because of the suspicious license tag. However, Barnes said the law cited by police in charging Jackson with displaying a fictitious tag didn’t fit the offense.
Barnes did find that there was enough evidence to find Jackson guilty on the resisting a police officer charge.
“You’ve got a lot of issues,” Barnes told Jackson before entering his guilty verdict.
Reached by phone Wednesday evening, Jackson said he was stunned by Barnes’ ruling.
"I was 100 percent shocked about it," he said.
Jackson claimed Barnes didn't explain to him why he found him guilty of resisting an officer.
Jackson claimed anyone who knows him knows he wouldn't drive a vehicle that wasn’t properly insured or that didn’t comply with state laws. He also claimed he was on his way to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office to pick up his new license plate when he was stopped.
Noting his past criticism of the Hertford Police Department, Jackson claimed the traffic stop proves to him he’s being targeted by law enforcement.
"I mean, they're looking for anything on me," he said. "It's tit for tat."
What really upsets him about the traffic stop, he said, is that it shows a lack of consistent policing procedures in Hertford. He said he blames the town council on which he serves for that, not officers.
"We want upper-echelon policing in Hertford," he said. "Unfortunately, we don't have it. We definitely don't have a well-run police department."
Barnes’ verdict on Wednesday wasn’t the first time Jackson has been found guilty by a judge. According to N.C. Public Safety records, Jackson was convicted in Perquimans in May 2007 of simple assault and communicating threats. He also was convicted in Dare County in 2016 of accessing a computer without proper authority. He was sentenced to probation for both convictions.
In court on Wednesday observing the proceedings were Hertford Mayor Horace Reid and Mayor Pro-Tem Archie Aples. Neither offered any comment after the ruling.