Family of Harnett County man killed by deputy demands removal of sheriff, D.A.
Posted May 16, 2016
Harnett County, N.C. — 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.
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.