Local News

Family of Harnett County man killed by deputy demands removal of sheriff, D.A.

Posted May 16, 2016

— Family and supporters of a Harnett County man shot to death by a deputy are demanding the removal of Sheriff Wayne Coats and District Attorney Vernon Stewart.

John Livingston, 33, was shot in November and Monday night, supporters said they do not believe the sheriff or District Attorney handled the case appropriately. At a Board of Commissioners meeting, they threatened that they have the power, knowledge and support to have the county commissioners removed if changes are not made.

“If you cannot represent your citizens, then we will take efforts to have you removed; all of you,” said Maria Arias. “They work for us, we pay them, we vote them in. If they’re not going to do their job, we’re going to get rid of them.”

Arias addressed Harnett County commissioners on behalf of Livingston’s family, who were in the audience. Since the beginning, their message has been clear- they believe Livingston’s death was unjustified and they want someone to pay.

“They have the power to do something. They have John Livingston’s blood on their hands. They could’ve done something,” Arias said.

Livingston was shot and killed on the porch of his Spring Lake home by a Harnett County deputy who was investigating a reported assault. Witnesses said 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.

Since the incident, the FBI launched an investigation into the shooting after a grand jury decided not to pursue a criminal case.

Livingston’s family said the past six months have been difficult, especially for his teenage son, John Livingston, Jr.

“I get very emotional. We’ve been there trying to support him the whole time. It’s heartbreaking, it’s hard, but it’s got to be done,” said family friend Frankie Setzer

Arias and the family also have the support of the NAACP, who were in attendance Monday night. They vow to stand behind the family as federal investigators work.

“The NAACP will provide full, 100 percent support of your cause and to assure you that this support will be in place as long as it shall be needed,” said Steve Blackburn with the NAACP.

Commissioner Jim Burgin said the board would not respond to any public comments on the matter Monday night.

The county has hired an attorney to help respond to the federal investigation. County Manager Joseph Jefferies said last week that the county would cooperate while conducting its own independent assessment.


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  • Josha Barton May 17, 2016
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    I believe they, the news reporters, are wrong. The officers has a search warrant for Livingston's home with the wrong address.

  • Josha Barton May 17, 2016
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    I'm glad some kind of organization, the NAACP, is involved. That definitely gets attention. Should they start a petition and a go fund me account to raise money. I would like to help.

  • Janet Ghumri May 17, 2016
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    The family of John Livingston deserve justice. He was standing his ground, and it was previously reported that the warrant the officers had was for the wrong address. The officers forced their way into his home at 3am.what I'm curious about, the earliest reports said that the police were responding to an assault. What happened to the person being assaulted at a different address? And how would they have gotten a warrant before responding to the call, at the correct address?this whole thing stinks