Durham police officers punished for gun parts use

Investigation stems from allegations that officers had sold seized weapons on a popular firearms website
April 25, 2014 7:26:51 PM PDT
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez addressed an internal investigation involving several of his officers, some of them high ranking, Friday morning.

ABC11 first learned about the investigation in February. Both current and former employees connected to the department, but not directly involved in the investigation, alleged several officers had sold seized weapons on a popular firearms website frequented by the law enforcement community.

But Lopez said Friday there is no evidence guns or gun parts were sold. He said the investigation did find that department employees and officers kept some gun parts for use on their department-issued and personal weapons.

Lopez said while such activity had been permitted in the past, it is now in violation of a court order that states seized weapons must be destroyed. Lopez said the officers apparently acted with a genuine belief their actions were appropriate, but they should have known the rules.

"I expect this lapse of judgment to be isolated," he said.

Lopez said 11 employees were investigated and seven now face disciplinary action ranging from reprimands to suspensions based on their level of involvement and rank:

  • Capt. Kevin Cates - suspended
  • Lt. George Zeipekkis - suspended
  • Sgt. Nicholas Schneider - suspended
  • Sgt. Joseph Piatt - suspended
  • Officer Christopher Wiesemann - suspended
  • Reserve Officer William Evans -  written reprimand/suspension from off-duty work for one month
  • Robert Rowley, Armorer - suspended


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