Local News

Data: Raleigh police rarely fire on suspects

Posted March 4, 2016
Updated June 12

— It has been six years since an officer of the Raleigh Police Department shot and killed someone.

In 2008, Renford Butler robbed and carjacked a cab driver and led police on a chase before confronting officers with a straight razor. He was shot and later died.

Since then, Raleigh police have made approximately a million arrests. While not all of those arrests went smoothly, statistics appear to show that firing a weapon to subdue a suspect is often the last resort.

Dennis Lane, a retired Raleigh police major, said officers resort to deadly force only as a means of self-defense.

"Raleigh officers come to work each day with three goals: provide the best service that they can, not have to use deadly force, but to be able to go home at the end of the day," Lane said.

Harry Dolan, former Raleigh chief of police and now a consultant to law enforcement agencies, praised the actions of Officer D.C. Twiddy, who shot and killed a known drug dealer after a chase on Monday.

"The actions of Senior Officer Twiddy on Feb. 29 appear to be yet another example of the heroism that the men and women of the RPD display in the line of duty,” Dolan said.

"As a resident of Raleigh and as a retired police officer, I am extremely grateful to know that members of the RPD regularly engage in unsung acts of selfless heroism on behalf of the citizens they serve."

Over the past 10 years, Raleigh police have averaged about one officer-involved shooting per year. Officers answer about 1,000 calls per day and suffer hundreds of physical assaults each year.

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Community leaders say that police have built trust by through communication, but that there is still more to be done.

"When people found out that police were in their neighborhood not to arrest them but to talk to them, and communication played a big part, I've seen good results from that," said Eugene Weeks, a former Raleigh city councilman.

"It's that communication between the police and the community that will be very effective in driving toward us having a better city, having a better trust in the police, and the police having a better trust in the community they are serving."

Since Butler's shooting death, RPD officers have been assaulted nearly 1,200 times. The most dangerous year was 2011, when there were 192 recorded assaults on officers.

The most recent data available, from 2014, shows that suspects showed a gun in just two assaults on police. Four times, they showed a knife or other cutting instrument; seven had another type of weapon; and 125 assaults came from flying fists or feet.

In two incidents in 2014, officers responded with gunshots. At an apartment complex, police returned fire after a suspect fired on them first. Seven months later, a Raleigh officer shot and injured a man at a mental health facility when the man charged him with a pair of scissors. An investigation found that officer used his gun after his stun gun failed to stop the man.


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  • Ben Wellington Mar 7, 2016
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    tracy you sound ridiculous. My son is a police officer in San Diego and was very nearly seriously injured by a woman with a knife of that size. He didn't shoot the woman but he said if he was in the same situation again he might have had to do it because his partner got cut pretty bad and he was almost stabbed. These police officers should not have to risk their lives even more than they already have to. Shame on you.

  • Betsy Smith Mar 6, 2016
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    A large "cooking" knife is still very dangerous. If she wasn't a danger (to herself or others), then the Police wouldn't have been called. According to the article, they tried using a stun gun so there's your different tactic. Suggesting the officers should continue to risk being stabbed is ridiculous. If you want to blame someone, blame her loved ones for not getting her committed based on her violent history. All they had to do was make the effort and provide statements she was an immediate danger.

  • Matt Nickeson Mar 6, 2016
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    You have never faced down someone with a knife have you?

  • Tracy Watson Mar 6, 2016
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    It was Raleigh Police. And you don't know anything about the case just what you read on the Internet. You can't just commit someone especially an adult. And the "machete" was a large cooking knife. Please stop. I support police but this case didn't need to end in the death of a young women.

  • Lamario Kelly Mar 6, 2016
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    Alex, lets use some sense...so a woman with a knife can't be restrained another way, yeah well then the police officer should have used different tactics!

  • Alex Patrick Mar 6, 2016
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    Tracy Watson- First, that was the Wake County Sheriffs Office that responded to that call, not the Raleigh Police. Second, the reason they were called out was because your friend was violating a domestic violence protection order after threatening her partner with a knife. Third, she was shot only after she charged the deputies with a machete. Not much room to "talk." Forth, being bipolar doesn't mean you aren't a danger to others. Finally, I read a lot about that shooting and I don't remember seeing Tracy Watson as being listed as a witness or hearing about any of Ms. Mullin's friends working with the police to get her committed for her mental health issues. You can certainly be sad about the loss of your friend, and if you need to blame someone to accept her death, go ahead, but don't spread half truths here in an attempt to create hatred and mistrust in a time this city is in a crisis. http://www.wral.com/wake-deputy-kills-woman-who-charged-at-him-with-knife/12459148/

  • Tracy Watson Mar 6, 2016
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    This is not true. The police shot and killed a woman that I know..Misti Mullins in 2013. she was bi polar and the police were made aware of this and they did little to nothing to talk her down or ask if anyone could talk her down. They killed her.

  • Phil Manutz Mar 5, 2016
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    Apparently you have forgotten to apply common sense to that post. There are not 777 sworn officers that work 24 hours a day. So, the officers will answer more than 1.5 calls per day. You may want to get some information about the Raleigh Police Dept other than the how many calls they answer per day. They may have 777 sworn officers, but a good portion of those officers are not beat officers. Beat officers are the ones that actually answer the calls for service. Then, Raleigh has 6 police districts. There are two 12-hour shifts/platoons/battalions (whatever you want to call them) that answer calls for service in those 6 beats. So, let's just assume that there are 8 officers per district (maybe more, maybe less). That's 48 beat officers per 12-hour shift. 96 for the full 24-hours. That would actually be 10.4 calls per officer, per shift.

  • Linda Reiter Mar 4, 2016
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    Very easily could be correct. http://www.joinraleighpd.org/welcome.html states that there are over 777 sworn officers. 1,000 calls per day would be about 1.5 calls per officer.

  • John Smith Mar 4, 2016
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    Should read: Raleigh Police, like most, only fire on suspects when life threatened.