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Family: Harnett deputies who shot man with cocaine in system were trespassing

Posted February 8, 2016
Updated March 22, 2016

A man shot last fall during a confrontation with Harnett County deputies had cocaine and alcohol in his system when he was killed, according to an autopsy report released Monday.

John Livingston, 33, was shot and killed on the front porch of his Spring Lake home Nov. 15.

“We loved him and we miss him and our lives are changed forever,” said Livingston’s mother-in-law Elizabeth Lovings.

Deputies arrived at Livingston's Everett Street home to investigate a reported assault. Witnesses say Livingston told deputies the couple they were looking for didn't live there, and when deputies asked to search the home, he refused because they didn't have a search warrant.

“[They] kicked the door in and came in,” said Lovings. “They should not have been in the house, they were trespassing.”

Deputies say Livingston became combative and was shot. A deputy suffered minor injuries in the confrontation.

The autopsy report states that Livingston was shot three times from an "indeterminate/distant range." One of the bullets passed through his left arm into his chest, while the others also passed through his arms and ended up in his upper back and around his collar bone.

Toxicology tests showed that Livingston had a blood-alcohol content of 0.14 and had cocaine metabolites – chemicals created as the body tries to break down and get rid of cocaine – in his system.

​Deputy Nicholas Kehagias has been placed on administrative leave while the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation reviews the incident, which is standard procedure. Kehagias has worked with the Harnett County Sheriff's Office since July 2013 and is assigned to the Patrol Division.

Family members have protested outside the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office in the past.

“John was in his house, wasn’t bothering nobody,” Lovings said.


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  • Rudy Bizzell Apr 12, 2016
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    The family needs to get a lawyer.

  • Michael Clay Feb 9, 2016
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    Janet Ghumri you are correct! Sometimes the LEO think that they can do what they want. It appears in this case that the officer was wrong.

  • Janet Ghumri Feb 9, 2016
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    The chemical found in the victim's system is not cocaine itself, but a chemical that shows up when the body breaks down cocaine. How long does it take for this chemical to show up, and how long does it stay in someone's system?

    What I'm concerned about is that the way this information is given, it makes this man sound very guilty. But he was at home, HIS home, at 330 am, Sunday morning, the officers didn't double check the address when he stood on his front porch and told them it was the wrong house. They escalated to a confrontation that never should have happened. The article says that he was shot on his own front porch. That doesn't sound like he went after them. He had every right to deny entry, and if the officers had taken the time to get a warrant, they may have realized THEIR MISTAKE on the address., also, they may have found the proper address where a crime was being committed.

  • Michael Clay Feb 9, 2016
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    Joseph Shepard, proable cause and reasonable suspicion gives LEO's a reason to obtain a warrent to search any place, vehicle, person ect.... You have to go to a judge and give him/her a reason for the warrent, and it has to be a good reason.

  • Sean Creasy Feb 9, 2016
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    Let the mudslinging begin!!!

  • Hamilton Bean Feb 9, 2016
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    Probable cause--reasonable suspicion. Two ill-defined terms, but in reality it gives LEO's permission to enter or search any place, vehicle, person, etc..

  • Robert Hartley Feb 9, 2016
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    There's two important issues regarding this incident.

    I'll says imply that yes, law enforcement can not enter without a warrant some PC.

    No you may not try to attack legitimate uniformed officers because they make a mistake. You let them break down the door and if they find something you skip on the charges because of fruit of the poisonous tree.

    In one form or another the issue boils down to that.

  • Roy Hinkley Feb 9, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    You're suggesting that the medical examiner is lying about finding cocaine metabolites in his system.

  • Janet Ghumri Feb 8, 2016
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    Wasn't he on his own front porch? It's legal to deny a search with out a warrant. I'm not saying that there may not have been suspicion, but it just doesn't sound like there was any reason for the situation to escalate to death. An officer, or two, could have remained at the location while a warrant was obtained, right? Having alcohol in his system, in his own home, isn't a crime. ( I'm wondering if the truth is being told about the illegal substance. Seems like the officers need to justify the shooting.) Police have a difficult job already, I hate to question their authority, but it seems a little fishy, to me. I'm just saying

  • Fanny Chmelar Feb 8, 2016
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    "When deputies asked to search the home, he refused because they didn't have a search warrant. Deputies say that's when Livingston became combative and was shot."

    Other outlets said that Livingston closed the door after telling the cops "no entry without warrant". The cops then broke down the door and attacked him. They tased him and he tried to get the taser out of the cop's hand to get the cop to stop. So they shot him. And because the bullets entered through his arm, it indicates he was not charging them - corroborating the stories of the witnesses. The deputies mishandled the situation both legally and morally.

    There should be murder charges.