Ex-North Carolina trooper pleads guilty in arrest beating

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper accused of involvement in a 2018 beating and K9 attack on a homeless man has been convicted of misdemeanor charges in the case.

Michael Blake pleaded guilty to two counts of willful failure to discharge his duties, news outlets reported Monday. As part of a plea deal, he agreed to permanently surrender his law enforcement certification and serve a year on unsupervised probation.

In exchange, Wake County prosecutors dismissed charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, soliciting assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Blake and two other troopers were indicted on the assault charges in May 2018 and on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in December of that year. The charges stemmed from the April 2018 arrest of 29-year-old Kyron Dwain Hinton.

Dashboard camera video from the arrest show Hinton standing alone at an intersection, moaning and gesturing. Officers from multiple agencies then surround him and eventually a K9 lunges and gets a mouthful of his clothing. The dog's handler then tackles Hinton. While Hinton is on the ground, at least one officer can be seen punching him.

At the time, Hinton told news outlets he suffered a fractured eye socket and broken nose and was bitten more than 20 times. Authorities initially said there were reports he may have had a gun.

In one video, Blake can be heard ordering other officers to strike Hinton in the head with a flashlight, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman alleged. Freeman added that Blake later filed a misleading statement about the attack that didn't mention use of force.

Hinton died in February 2019 of cocaine poisoning and a neck injury from being restrained, according to a state medical examiner's report. He received an $83,000 settlement in the 2018 case just a day before his death, according to authorities.

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