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July 23, 2006
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Police in Raleigh, N.C., investigating alleged assault involving Durham police

The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C.- Raleigh police are investigating allegations that several Durham police officers were involved in an assault outside a sports bar, authorities said Saturday.

In addition to the criminal probe of Thursday's incident, Durham police Chief Steven Chalmers said in a statement his office is conducting an internal review. Chalmers' statement did not name the officers suspected of being involved in the incident, citing department policy and state personnel privacy laws.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday that Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the supervisor in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation and an investigator who has worked on the case were placed on administrative duty the day after the incident.

The paper said Michael could not comment on whether the change in the officers' status was related to the assault allegations. Michael did not return calls from The Associated Press.

When reached Saturday, Durham City Manager Patrick Baker declined to say if the officers involved had any ties to the lacrosse case. He said the incident involved "several officers" from Durham, but he didn't have an exact figure.

No police report of the incident was on record at the Raleigh police department Saturday, and a Raleigh police spokesman did not return several messages seeking comment.

Bar employee Rene Dennis Thomas, 29, told the News & Observer he exchanged words with the passenger of a black truck as it sped away from Blinco's sports bar Thursday night.

The truck stopped, Thomas told the paper, and he then found himself surrounded by at least three more cars. He fell to the ground after several men got out of the cars, he said, and was hit and a shoe grazed his face.

A telephone listing for Thomas in Raleigh was disconnected.

Chalmers said no criminal charges had been filed against anyone from his department.

A grand jury indicted three Duke University lacrosse players on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense after a woman told police she was assaulted at a March team party. Defense attorneys have proclaimed the players' innocence.

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