Judge sets $1M bond for man charged in fatal shooting outside Raleigh home
Posted February 3
Raleigh, N.C. — A judge on Friday set a $1 million bond for a Raleigh homeowner charged with shooting and killing a man last summer after complaining about "hoodlums" in his neighborhood.
Chad Cameron Copley, 39, of 3536 Single Leaf Lane, told a 911 dispatcher on Aug. 7 that he was "locked and loaded" and planned to "secure the neighborhood" because people attending a nearby house party were vandalizing the area and shouting profanities.
Investigators said Copley fired a shotgun through a window from inside his garage, striking Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, 20, who was outside.
After the shooting, Copley's wife called 911, and he told a dispatcher that he was "trying to protect myself and my family" because the people outside had firearms and that he had simply "fired a warning shot as required by law."
"He's (not) a man that goes out and looks for trouble," defense attorney Raymond Tarlton told Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens. "Trouble came to him."
Copley was worried his 18-year-old son might be harmed by the loud partygoers, who he said brandished weapons when he told them to quiet down, Tarlton said.
"It was loud, and he didn't understand what he was getting into," the lawyer said, calling the shooting a "justified defensive force firing."
"You can dispel a threat in a lot of different ways," Stephens said. "One of which, I guess, is to eliminate the threat, and the other one is just to frighten folks."
In response to the judge's questioning, Tarlton said the defense "would not take a formal position" on whether Copley shot Thomas by accident or on purpose.
He noted that North Carolina lawmakers expanded the so-called "castle doctrine" several years ago to provide people more latitude in using deadly force to defend themselves, their families and their homes.
"There's nothing in the law that says you have to wait for someone to literally kick in the door. Bullets can fly through a house and kill people," he said.
After listening to Copley's 911 calls on the night of the shooting, Stephens said, "He didn't make any reference to his home or his castle or his family."
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour agreed that Thomas was in Copley's front yard when he was shot, but Latour argued that Thomas posed no threat to Copley's home.
"This was just him going out of his own volition to confront these people," Latour said of Copley.
Tarlton had requested a $250,000 bond and told Stephens that Copley's family was prepared to post a bond for that amount. It's unclear whether they can come up with the higher bond amount.
Family members for both Copley and Thomas declined to comment after the court hearing.