'I'm still grieving': Family of deputy Ned Byrd questions Wake Sheriff in the aftermath

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Sunday, September 4, 2022
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In an emotional press conference on Saturday, the family of late Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd had a list of questions to ask Wake Sheriff Gerald Baker.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In an emotional press conference on Saturday, the family of late Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd had a list of questions to ask Wake Sheriff Gerald Baker.

"Why did you deny outside agency assistance that was offered to allow any members of the Wake County Sheriff's Office, Ned's brothers and sisters in the blue, to attend the funeral and say goodbye?" Byrd's uncle, Walter Penney asked. "Why did the men and women who were on the scene that horrible night, not have one workday off to grieve?"

The questions were among several the family demanded answers to, including reported changes in the K-9 unit and how Byrd's funeral was handled.

"This office chose/requested to have all his uniform back," Byrd's sister, Mignon Perkins said. "Requested that we cut it off of him before he goes to be cremated, including all his brass, everything. But when it got to us that that's what they wanted, they retracted. The question I have is, what good would that have done for anyone to cut a uniform off an officer that's being laid to rest?"

Perkins, shedding tears as she talked about the K-9 unit and how concerned she was after hearing about reassignments.

"The K-9 unit became my family when I came here," Perkins said. "I lost my brother, but I gained a bunch more. And for them, or any officers, being targeted because of me, it's on my conscience now."

In a statement on Friday, Sheriff Gerald Baker said inquiries as to personnel moves within the Wake County Sheriff's Office have taken place, and result from the needs of the office in serving the county.

"Additionally, reassignments are necessary part of organizational and career development, and broadens the experiences of deputies as they advance in their law enforcement careers," Baker said. "As to the decision regarding specific officers, as you are aware, would violate North Carolina General Statute provisions protecting personnel privacy."

Mignon responded to the statement on Saturday, calling the reassignments demotions, not promotions.

"They're demoted, that word tells you that it's not an advance," Perkins said.

"How is a demotion furthering anyone's career?" Penney asked. "The last time I checked, that was a step backwards, so it just doesn't make sense."

WATCH FULL PRESS CONFERENCE:

Baker reaffirmed Friday's statement on Saturday and said there's no further statement after Byrd's family spoke for an hour outside the sheriff's office.

"I'm still grieving, but it's getting harder for me to do it when I have to worry about if one of them will get hurt," Perkins said.

Byrd, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in August, was laid to rest on August 19. Perkins said she asked Deputy Devin Richardson to present the flag that draped Byrd's coffin at the funeral, when typically, the sheriff would be the one to do it.

"When I got here, it was the K9 unit that has been by my side, and that's who I've seen physically every day. So, I chose one of them," Perkins said. "I think that ... he (Baker) feels disrespected. But ... it was disrespectful of me and my brother to ask for his clothes back. It was disrespectful for him not to come to me about information I had to hear from other people, I should have been the first one to hear."

After reading the Wake County Sheriff's Office's core values, Penney asked how that will be upheld.

"This job gets more and more dangerous every day," Penney said. "How are you ensuring the men and women patrolling the streets of Wake County are more protected now after this tragedy? It's a shame that this had to happen, but will this be a learning lesson for the sheriff? Or for the department in general?"