State News

Autopsy: Man shot in back by North Carolina state trooper

Posted July 11

— A black man killed by a North Carolina state trooper earlier this year was shot in the back and died after massive blood loss, according to an autopsy.

The report by the state medical examiner's office found that 31-year-old Willard Scott was hit once in the lower back and once in the buttock during the confrontation in Durham in February. He was taken to a hospital but died of the wounds, the report released Monday said.

The Durham NAACP chapter issued a statement saying that Scott's family is urging prosecutors to consider charging the trooper.

The shooting happened around 1 a.m. on February 12 after authorities say the trooper, who is white, observed Scott driving erratically and tried to pull him over with his siren and flashing lights. A Highway Patrol news release from February said the trooper followed Scott after he failed to stop, and the driver eventually got out of his car and fled on foot.

"During the foot pursuit, an armed confrontation ensued," the news release said. Authorities said a handgun that didn't belong to law enforcement was found at the scene.

The State Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the shooting, released a statement in February that the trooper shot Scott after the chase, but didn't elaborate on where Scott was hit. The SBI identified the patrolman as Trooper Jerimy Mathis, who was placed on leave.

The autopsy report said Scott was taken to a hospital but died during emergency surgery because of blood loss from the bullet that damaged a major artery and other organs.

The SBI has begun turning over information to the Durham district attorney, but hasn't completed its investigative report, agency spokeswoman Patty McQuillan said Tuesday. McQuillan said a dashboard camera captured some sound but no video footage of the shooting.

The NAACP described the autopsy as "confirming our worst fears" and said the family is urging a thorough investigation and further training for troopers on de-escalating conflicts.

The statement said the district attorney "must prosecute (Mathis) to the fullest extent of the law, as warranted by the investigation."

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Follow Drew at www.twitter.com/jonldrew

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