A white North Carolina state trooper and his fiancée are accused in a recent complaint of assaulting two Black teens visiting a home under construction in the trooper’s neighborhood. What Sgt. Sean Luther Bridges and his fiancée, Leann Weber, apparently didn’t know during the incident Sept. 10, 2019, is that the teens’ mother, mental health nurse Beth Harris, was in the process of purchasing the home, according to the progressive tabloid Indy Week. “They thought because they were African American children that they were in the house stealing,” Harris told the tabloid. Bridges, who wasn’t in uniform at the time of the encounter, is accused of holding 19-year-old Mahogany Atkinson at gunpoint while Weber hit the teen’s then-14-year-old brother Xavier in the head with Bridges’ walkie talkie.
Harris told Indy Week that the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office even searched a relative’s home for stolen items and found nothing, but that didn’t stop authorities from threatening the children with charges of assault on a law enforcement officer. It also didn’t prevent the North Carolina Department of Safety from having a Black sergeant approach Harris with what attorneys described as a hardly veiled quid pro quo. The good news is Harris was secretly recording First Sgt. D.L. Mobley and later turned over the audio to Indy Week.
In the recording, an official Indy Week identified as Mobley can be heard explaining that Xavier and the woman accused of assaulting him weren’t being charged because of what's known as the Good Samaritan law, which grants individuals attempting to prevent a person from being injured legal protection.
“I think if your son had gotten more serious injuries, I think ... me and you wouldn’t even be having this conversation because it would be a moot point,” Mobley said. “But if you can see in your heart—and y’all think about it today. You don’t have to give me an answer right now—to not go after his wife with charges or whatever ... these charges are not going to get filed because mainly I can’t have another Black person with a felony on their record where I don’t, it’s not deserved.”
Harris then told Mobley her children should have never been approached because builders told her they could go to the home. “I got nothing,” Mobley responded. He told Harris he was “mad” and didn’t know what to do in the situation.
“I’m not even trying to play the Black/white card, but I look out for my people,” Mobley said. He added that the district attorney respects him, his word “goes a long way” with the sheriff, and Bridges will stand by him if “I can make you comfortable.”
“He’s like, ‘well, I don’t want no civil litigations to come out after this. If we’re going to make it go away, it has to go away,’” Mobley said.
He then told Harris if she feels like something has to be done, someone from his office would draw up paperwork to have her son and daughter served. “Your son, he’s a juvenile. His would be on juvenile petition,” Mobley said. He added that her daughter would be served a warrant for “the felony of felonius assault on a law enforcement officer.”
“Let’s not get to that point,” Mobley said. “If I can assure to you that there’s not going to be any retaliation, my guys ain’t gonna be sitting up on you trying to harass you guys.”
Harris interrupted the sergeant at that point to tell him she canceled her contract on the home. "My children are traumatized,” she said, her voice cracking. “And it’s not fair for them to be scared when they walk out those doors.”
The conversation played out on Sept. 17, 2019, after Mobley reportedly called Harris at work and said he didn't want to talk over the phone. “That’s what prompted me to record what he needed to tell me, to save my kids,” she told Indy Week.