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North Carolina Deputy Fired Without Cause While Out on Worker’s Comp Injury: ‘Nobody Cared’
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North Carolina Deputy Fired Without Cause While Out on Worker’s Comp Injury: ‘Nobody Cared’

by Leah AnayaJanuary 1, 2021

Robeson County, NC – One major benefit of being in law enforcement is the brotherhood. The camaraderie. The lifelong friendships and strong bonds.

Or at least that’s what happens on TV.

Time and again, when I talk to people as a peer support advocate through The Wounded Blue, I hear how as soon as an officer is injured, they’re completely forgotten about. They’re left to deal with their injuries- mental and physical- like they were never even a part of the team.

I had that very conversation with Scottie Deese, who up until New Year’s Eve was a deputy with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.

On August 31, Deese, who is also an injured war veteran who served as a combat engineer in the Army, was involved in a collision. He and his partner were stopped to assist a State Trooper on his car stop when a vehicle driving about 90 MPH crashed into the rear of the patrol car.

The deputy who was in the driver’s seat received a broken pinky, while Deese suffered several injuries, to include a concussion, a busted right shoulder, an injured neck and back, and an injured left knee. His biggest injury, besides the headaches from the concussion, is his right shoulder, which his doctor said looks like someone shot from behind with a shotgun.

Deese had so many appointments to go to and wasn’t able to drive, per the doctor’s orders. There was one instance where a deputy “snuck” to drive Deese, but kept is a secret so no one would find out. Other than that, Deese, who is married with five children ages one to 17, was on his own. He ended up taking a taxi to many appointments.

“In the military,” Deese told me, “it’s all about brotherhood. It’s supposed to be like that in law enforcement too. It’s not like that, they don’t care. Nobody cared.”

He said he started to get depressed from the lack of caring from the department, especially by Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, who Deese said he thought was his friend. Not one time during the four months he was out of work from his injuries did Wilkins come to check on him.

Wilkins lives seven houses down from Deese. “He couldn’t go seven houses to check on me,” Deese said. “Seven houses. That’s walking distance, man.”

On New Year’s Eve, Deese was called into the Deputy Chief’s office, who was waiting for him with a letter from Sheriff Wilkins.

The letter from the Sheriff said Deese’s services were “no longer needed.” Deese was asked to turn in his badge and gun: He was fired.

Sheriff Wilkins didn’t even care to show up to do the deed himself.

Deese told me, “How can he say he cares about his community, when he doesn’t even care about his own deputies?”

In North Carolina, the sheriff is able to fire anyone with out cause. However, that’s not true when someone is going through an active workers’ compensation case. Deese doesn’t know why Wilkins fired him, and he doesn’t know how it’s possible that it was legal since he’s still out of work related to his injuries.

Workers’ comp is still legally required to cover his medical costs related to his on duty injury, but Deese is out of luck with everything else- a job, other insurance benefits, being a part of the team, etc.

Deese was going to physical therapy after a surgery, but workers’ compensation stopped paying the bills so the physical therapist wouldn’t see him anymore. He called workers’ comp and they took care of the issue eventually, but by then he had missed three weeks, plus holiday interruptions.

Additionally, his shoulder surgery has to get redone, because the doctor said he “should be” able to lift his arm up by now, which he can’t. He can’t sleep most nights because of his pain.

Deese mentioned his K9, Rex, and how he cared for the dog for over two months without getting paid. The sheriff’s office is supposed to give him extra compensation for this, but they hadn’t. No one would even bring him food for the dog- he had to take a taxi to get to the pick up spot for the K9’s food.

As soon as he asked about the compensation owed to him for caring for the dog, another handler showed up and took Rex. When the handler showed up, he told Deese that he was told by “higher ups” to pick up Rex, because Deese didn’t want him anymore. This could not have been farther from the truth.

Deese is completely defeated over the loss of his career. He said, “I gave up so much, I sacrificed so much to be in law enforcement. I don’t even want to leave the house, I’m so upset. I just don’t get how he could do this to me.”

Sheriff Wilkins was apparently not shy about Deese being one of his best employees. He mentioned how great of a deputy Deese was multiple times. One wouldn’t know it because Wilkins fired Deese without so much of a conversation, but the two were even friends before all of this. Wilkins and his wife own rental homes, and Deese used to work in construction so he helped them with repairs for their rental units occasionally, with no charge.

Eventually, Deese had planned to run for sheriff, once Wilkins retired. Deese said he knew he couldn’t work for the department if he ran for sheriff, but that was so far away he hadn’t even thought of resigning. He did, however, get suspicious that he may have to resign or be fired when the chief deputy started talking to him about Wilkins hearing that Deese was planning on running. Deese said he had told Wilkins, and even his wife in text messages, that he wasn’t even thinking about it until Wilkins retired, out of loyalty to his friend.

“I was loyal to him,” Deese said. “I was always loyal to him. We were friends. Now I’m not loyal to him anymore- I was going to wait until he retired to run for Sheriff, that was always my plan. I thought when he retired maybe he could help me. He’s only there for the money.

“I’m not waiting anymore: In 2022, I’m running for Sheriff. He fired me for no reason; I don’t owe him anything.”

Speaking with Deese, it’s clear that he’s broken on many levels: Physically, and over the loss of his job and even the loss of his friend. “I know all things happen for a reason,” Deese said. “I got little kids I have to take care of. Look what he did to me and my kids!”

If only this type of incident were isolated. This is just one of many examples of how we, as a law enforcement community, need to get better at caring for each other, while on full duty or otherwise.

About The Author
Leah Anaya
Leah Anaya
Leah Anaya is a medically retired police officer. She served for three years at the Oakland Police Department, and just under five at a department in Washington State. Before that, she was an intelligence analyst in the US Army. She is now a stay at home mom living with her husband, who is still serving as a police officer, and their three children. She also grew up as the daughter of a police officer in California. Leah is now a writer and Deputy Editor at Law Enforcement News Network as well as the Business Manager for Washington State FOP. She's a peer support advocate for The Wounded Blue and Serve and Protect. You can find her on social media @leahmsanaya or at www.leahanaya.com.
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Shannon
Shannon
1 month ago

This is a lie about him saying he was going to wait until Sheriff Wilkins retired. The page that was for Deese running said his plans was to run in 2022. He had no plans to wait. I’ve been reading it since November or first of December. The Sheriff cannot have a member on his force that may be going behind his back to collude with others to undermine his department. He needs to keep his officers committed on the job. If they are not, they may be campaigning on the job or for someone else while on the job. Sheriff Wilkins removed himself from the man’s life once he realized that Deputy Deese was planning on running, I’m sure. And he probably figured if he can campaign and plan to do the job of Sheriff, he can work. There’s a reason it’s legal to fire an employee with the Sheriff’s Department due to politics. The Reverend is lying. I don’t want a Sheriff who cannot tell the truth.

Locklear
Locklear
1 month ago
Reply to  Shannon

Can you share the page?

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago
Reply to  Locklear

What was the reason to fire again?????

Shannon
Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I don’t know the reason. I’m speculating. But, the good Reverend lied when he claimed he had no intention of running before Wilkins retired. It’s been talked about on the Lumbees For Reparations page on Facebook since first of November.

Sherry
Sherry
1 month ago
Reply to  Shannon

Its easy for you to use a fake account, to put fake news to try and ruin someones reputation. Why not put your real name on here? Too bad thousands know him and know thatvyou are bearing false witness.

Shannon
Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Locklear

It’s on the page Lumbees for Reparations on FB.

Sherry
Sherry
1 month ago
Reply to  Shannon

We would like to see that. Lol. Mayb, take a picture and show us? Mayb someone like one of you fakers wrote it.

Jackie
Jackie
1 month ago

The part about running for sheriff is irrelevant that is a long time from now…what matters is….being fired while out on sick leave. That shows poor decision making on the sheriffs part. Mr. Deese was injured in the line of duty…was he not? That shows that the sheriff lacks compassion for his employees and their families. This man has a family depending on him and his recovery, not to mention without reason. I am sorry once this story gets out Mr. Wilkins might be hurt he own chances of re-election.

Dwayne
Dwayne
1 month ago
Reply to  Jackie

I think the accident just delayed his firing and he is using it to gain sympathy votes. He has a business that is going good and by his own words a disabled veteran who draws a check from the government. If he wants the truth why don’t he sign a release and prove that’s the only reason he was fired. He didn’t mention that he was kicked out of his first BELT class when he was caught cheating and Sheriff Wilkins knowing this gave him a chance to redeem hisself. He is a disgruntle former deputy who thinks the sheriff should of kissed his butt. Great job Sheriff for Recognizing a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. If you can’t trust him with your life how can you trust him with mine. He is not qualified to be the sheriff, he is a former deputy who has never Investigated a breaking in entering must less a homicide, how can he lead someone when he don’t know how to do that his self.

Gonzo
Gonzo
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwayne

Need to put the line of him getting kicked out for cheating in bold letters. He was also the class leader and he was cheating off his own daughter who was in class with him. Always knew this guy was into some shady stuff.

Sherry
Sherry
1 month ago
Reply to  Jackie

Agreed

Cam
Cam
1 month ago

It is absolutely true how you are forgotten about when you are injured. I often said my family would have been much better off with me as a fatality. They would have gotten respect, support-both mentally and financially, and my memory wouldn’t have been spit on. I was actually ‘mooed’ while on light duty, you know cuz I was milking it. The entire process of being injured is demoralizing and humiliating, and then if you are on pain meds, well it is downright hard to keep everything you say and do straight. Not bitter, I have put it behind me since I was retired, but wanted to be brutally honest. Don’t see it changing, which is a tragedy.