Our Oct. 23 report on the unusual circumstances surrounding the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department handling of an alleged domestic-violence incident appears to have catalyzed government action. On Oct. 28, Public Information Officer John Bason of the North Carolina Department of Justice told Xpress, "SBI received a request from [Buncombe County] D.A. Ron [Moore] to conduct an investigation in Buncombe County regarding allegations made by Nisha Sherlin against Jeffrey Medford. That request has been approved and an SBI agent has been assigned to the case today."
On Oct. 15, Bason had told Xpress, "I checked with my SBI folks (in Raleigh and Asheville), and they don't have an investigation like this going on."
The request for an SBI investigation came from the Sheriff's Department -- after Xpress broke this story, according to assistant D.A. Kate Dreyer. This would appear to directly contradict Sheriff Bobby Medford, who told the Asheville Citizen-Times, "I asked for it the day after it happened."
On Oct. 28, the Sheriff's Department provided us with a tape of 911 calls concerning the incident, which we had first requested two weeks prior. On Nov. 1, other documents we had petitioned under the Freedom of Information Act were released.
A transcript of radio communications from deputies on the scene of the alleged violence reads in part: "No signs of assault in residence re: injuries." This is widely at odds with accounts from eyewitnesses who told Xpress that a blouse belonging to Sherlin was "covered with blood, and there was blood on the kitchen floor and the bedroom curtains." A heavy glass coffee table was completely shattered according to witnesses, as well as light fixtures. The bed frame was broken down to the floor on one side.
During our initial investigation, from Oct. 8-21, we were told by the Buncombe County Magistrate's office and the D.A.'s office that no charges had been filed against either Jeffrey Medford or Nisha Sherlin. Nor did a computer search of the county criminal-records database indicate pending charges. However, following Sherlin's release from Broughton State Hospital on Oct. 21, she was arrested on an outstanding warrant for attempted robbery. That warrant, filed by Woodfin Sgt. Rob Austin, did appear in the database as of Oct. 28, and is dated Oct. 8. (Austin is the officer who responded to a traffic accident in Woodfin that allegedly involved Sherlin.) The attempted robbery charge apparently stems from allegations that Sherlin tried to commandeer an SUV at the scene of the accident.
Xpress will continue to follow the story.