FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Fayetteville police announced Tuesday evening that a police officer had been arrested following a criminal investigation.

During a 7:30 p.m. news conference, Fayetteville Police Chief Kemberle Braden said that Officer Izreal Gear-Johnson had been arrested on several charges.

The arrest came after a Friday tip through Crimestoppers about “illegal narcotic activity,” Braden said.

Braden said Gear-Johnson, 23, was charged with two counts of willfully failing to discharge duties, common law obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and maintaining a dwelling for keeping controlled substances.

Fayetteville Police Officer Izreal Gear-Johnson in a photo from the Cumberland County Jail.
Fayetteville Police Officer Izreal Gear-Johnson in a photo from the Cumberland County Jail.

“I could have taken a lot more time investigated this a lot more thoroughly but I think the gravity of the situation the gravity of the allegations required some immediacy in my actions,” Braden said during the 13-minute news conference.

The police chief also said the officer had info that he “failed to act upon which allowed criminals to go unapprehended and unidentified.”

He is on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the internal investigation, as is standard procedure. 

“I hope this does send a message both internally to the officers and the employees of the Fayetteville Police Department and externally to the community, that I’m a chief of accountability,” Braden said.

Gear-Johnson was hired for police academy training in June 2021 and was sworn in June 2022.

The officer was being held in the Cumberland County Jail on a $100,000 secured bond.

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Just before the news conference Tuesday evening, Braden sent a letter to all Fayetteville police officers about the case.

Here is the full text of the letter to Fayetteville police officers:

One of the most difficult realities that we face as law enforcement professionals, is discovering that one of our own has eroded the trust of the community they serve as well as the men and women they serve alongside. When we take our oath of office, we commit to upholding the laws in which we are entrusted. When someone violates that oath, we have to respond swiftly and address any allegations that arise. Transparency is extremely important to me, as well as to our community. It is also equally important to the men and women at the Fayetteville Police Department. I want to provide you with information as we prepare to address the public with what has occurred over the last 72 hours.

On Friday, we received an anonymous Crime Stoppers Tip that a Fayetteville Police Officer was engaged in criminal activity while acting in their official capacity, as well as their off-duty time.

An investigation into these allegations began immediately, and today I am providing you with information that we have charged and arrested Izreal Gear-Johnson with Willfully Failing to Discharge Duties (2 counts), Common Law Obstruction of Justice; Conspiracy and Maintaining a Dwelling for keeping controlled substances. Additionally, the criminal investigation will continue internally along-side the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you have concerns about this incident or information that you feel is relevant, address it with your immediate supervisor, Internal Affairs or a trusted member of Command Staff.

I trust that we all understand the importance of being accountable for our actions by maintaining the integrity that we are entrusted within our community. The actions of one officer will undoubtedly affect how the entire Department is perceived. It is incumbent upon us to restore and maintain the relationships that we have cultivated throughout our community.

We need to strive to keep our lives unsullied both internally and externally as we continue to represent this great profession, and the oath we have taken, by holding ourselves accountable.

As the Chief of Police, I will take all allegations of misconduct seriously and will immediately begin to address any information received. It is paramount that as we strive to maintain legitimacy and transparency in our community, it has to start within our agency first.

I will leave you with this thought; know that you are empowered even when it affects someone who wears the same badge, we have to be willing to come forward and address issues when the wrongs outweigh the weight of the profession.

Fayetteville Police Chief Kemberle Braden