Autopsy: Mentally ill man shot four times by law enforcement
Posted May 20, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — A man with a mental illness who was shot by Wake County sheriff's deputies in March died of multiple gunshot wounds, including one at contact range, according to an autopsy report released Monday.
Jonathan Lee Cunningham, 35, was being transported by a deputy to a Winston-Salem psychiatric facility on March 31 when he got into a fight with the deputy, took off in his patrol car and led authorities on a chase on Interstates 40 and 540 in Raleigh.
Cunningham crashed and ran away on foot and, after another struggle with authorities, was shot and killed.
Monday's autopsy report found Cunningham was shot four times – three times in the chest and once in the shoulder – causing injuries to his lungs and heart.
The contact-range gunshot wound, the results of a gun's muzzle being held against the body at the time of discharge, was to the right back.
There was also an injury from the use of a conducted energy device, such as a stun gun, the report noted.
The two deputies involved in the shooting –Matthew Johnson and Dusty Mullen – have been placed on administrative duty while the State Bureau of Investigation investigates, which is standard protocol in an officer-involved shooting.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said after Cunningham's death that policies regarding involuntary psychiatric commitments would also be reviewed.
Jeremy Pittman, the deputy transporting Cunningham, had allowed him to sit unrestrained in the front of his patrol car, which isn't uncommon in such cases if the person being transported is calm, Harrison said.
"In the next couple of months, we're going to be coming up with some different ways of doing things," he said in an interview Friday. "So we probably will be handcuffing everybody, from now on, until I decide exactly how we're going to do it."