Charges dropped against NC disabled, homeless veteran after traumatic experience with police

9 July 2022

— A North Carolina veteran wants local police to release body cam footage of an incident he had with officers last fall.

Joshua Rohrer, the disabled vet who was homeless and living in a tent at the time, said what happened is bigger than just him. He wants the police force to be held accountable.

Rohrer said he’s been living a nightmare since Oct. 13 of 2021.

“I relive it everyday in my head,” he said. “So yes, it seems like it was yesterday.”

Rohrer was out with his service dog, Sunshine, near a shopping center on Cox Road in Gastonia.

“I was smiling and waving at people, walking around with Sunshine,” he said.

He said someone called police, and when they arrived they asked to see his ID.

Rohrer says he only had his military ID and showed it to officers. That’s when the situation escalated.

Rohrer said the responding officer “grabbed me by my wrist and slammed me forward on the hood of the car. They brutalized me. I’m screaming for help.”

He said Sunshine jumped onto the hood of the police cruiser and that one of the officers tased her.

“I screamed,” Rohrer said. “Sunshine yelped and started crying and took off around the cruiser.”

Rohrer was arrested and charged with resisting a police officer and panhandling. Sadly, Sunshine was hit by a car and killed while Rohrer was behind bars.

On Wednesday, Gaston County’s district attorney dropped the charges against Rohrer.

“I think that was the right thing to do because there was no reason to charge me in the first place,” Rohrer said.

But this isn’t over for Rohrer.

“This by no means is any resolution to this case. it’s just beginning, because now we have to get the body cam footage, which they seem to still be refusing to release to us.”

“The reason they’re refusing to release is because it shows the magnitude of their cover-up and their lies and their criminal actions against me and my service dog Sunshine,” he added. “This isn’t just about me and Sunshine. This is way bigger than that. This is about how they treat the homeless. This is about veterans with mental health crisis.”

Rohrer agreed to participate in the local veterans treatment court. He pleaded guilty to driving without a license.

A rally is set to be held on July 19 by Gastonia residents wanting police body cam video to be released.

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