Former Greensboro Police Chief David Wray can resume his fight to make the city pay his legal fees, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
Wray sued the city for more than $220,000, bills he amassed defending himself against state and federal investigations.
But in May 2015, Guilford County Superior Court agreed to dismiss the suit. It said the city didn’t have to pay Wray’s bills because it has “governmental immunity,” and the suit didn’t have to move forward.
The appeals court’s decision Tuesday reverses that.
The judges voted 2-1 to let Wray move ahead with his suit in state court, citing a 1980 city policy on paying legal bills of officers and employees.
Judges Chris Dillon and Valerie Zachary supported the order, saying the city’s policy “remained in effect during the entire time (Wray) was employed by the city.”
The two judges said they aren’t taking a position on the merits of Wray’s suit, but merely saying he shouldn’t be denied his day in court.
Judge Wanda Bryant disagreed, saying the state court rightfully stopped the suit from going forward in 2015.
According to the Court of Appeals ruling, Wray “resigned from his position as chief of police at the request of the city manager (Mitchell Johnson)” in 2006. The ruling said that came “after alleged incidents within the Greensboro Police Department resulted in state and federal investigations” or Wray and the department.
Subsequent lawsuits contended that under Wray’s command, the department created a “black book” with pictures of 19 black officers for the “purpose of framing, embarrassing and wrongfully investigating” them.
Wray, though, said the book was part of an investigation into a sexual assault.
In 2009, Wray took the city to court to pay his legal fees — upwards of $220,000 at the time.
The city asked the state court to dismiss the suit, saying the city had “governmental immunity” that protects it from such claims. Wray appealed the 2015 decision.
The city has since reached settlements with many of the officers involved in the original complaints.
From The News & Record