Local News

Man cleared in Durham police officer's shooting

Posted August 14, 2015

— A Durham man was acquitted Friday of shooting a police officer three years ago, with jurors convicting him only of common law robbery in the case.

Officer Kelly Stewart was shot in the thigh during a confrontation with Carlos Antonio Riley Jr. following a December 2012 traffic stop. Stewart testified that Riley was being uncooperative and shot him after the two got into a fist fight. But Riley's defense attorney insisted that Stewart accidentally shot himself with his own gun during the struggle.

"I believed this was going to happen. My faith, my faith, my faith and prayer. Prayers going up, and prayers come down," a relieved Patricia Riley, Riley's grandmother, said after the verdict was announced.

"The truth always prevails over all things," said Riley's mother, Karen Judd. "My son always has to be honest. I taught him that. I taught him to treat people in a humane way. During this trial, they were trying to portray him as a vicious criminal."

Stewart was unavailable for comment Friday, and Police Chief Jose Lopez expressed disappointment in the outcome.

"Although we’re disappointed with today’s verdict, we respect our justice system and the jury’s decision. We will continue to protect and serve the citizens of Durham," Lopez said in a statement.

Riley's supporters criticized prosecutors for pursuing the case.

"Our district attorney decided, after receiving hundreds of phone calls, not to drop these charges, and it was a wasteful amount of spending of taxpayers’ dollars," said Nia Wilson, executive director of SpiritHouse, a community development group. "This trial should not have ever happened."

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols responded by saying the trial wasn't a waste of time or money.

"If anyone is shot and there is a case of guilt to be made in a court against a perpetrator, I'm not doing my job if I ignore that," Echols said.

Echols also dismissed allegations by defense attorney Alex Charns that prosecutors tried to have him removed as Riley's attorney.

"The assistants trying the case saw things that concerned them about his readiness to try the case, so they brought those concerns to the court's attention," Echols said. "Whether or not that is seen as a request to remove him may be up to interpretation. However, bringing specific concerns to the court's attention was the intent."

Charns declined to comment after the case.

Superior Court Judge James Roberson sentenced Riley to 19 to 32 months in prison on the robbery charge, in addition to 15 to 27 months for a weapons charge that he pleaded guilty to last month. Because Riley has been in jail awaiting trial since the shooting occurred, his prison sentence on both charges could be over in as little as two months – or he could spend another two years in state prison.

After his state sentence is complete, Riley still must serve a 10-year federal sentence on a weapons charge connected to the case.

Charns said in court that Riley may have grounds to appeal the federal sentence because of Friday's acquittal.


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  • Volney Freeman Aug 15, 2015
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    Normally you scream let the courts decide. When the verdict isn't what you want, suddenly the system is jacked up. Smh..

  • Roy Jones Aug 15, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    It will only be a mater of time when he is going to church at 0300 in the morning. He picked the right cop to try to take his weapon, next time try it with a scared cop and see the results.

  • Gerald Elliott Aug 15, 2015
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    That's wyit's called Dirty Durham! That was a joke.

  • Mabel King Aug 15, 2015
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    I wonder what the racial makeup was of that jury that found this "young man" not guilty?????

  • King Mopar Aug 15, 2015
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    Black police officer, black defendant and the defense claims it's race related because one is polish. Geeze..what a joke of a trial. The officer was shot during a STRUGGLE with the defendant over the weapon. If there hadn't been a struggle, the weapon would not have discharged, not in his holster. I really feel for cops, who have to deal with these scum every day, to make a living, and try to protect "normal" people who try to live right and work for a living. Yea...your son/grandson is SUCH a good boy. Maybe the next person he robs, will plant him...er, well, you will.

  • Charles Phillips Aug 14, 2015
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    He'll be dead from violence or back in prison in no time flat

  • Chris Hickman Aug 14, 2015
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    Wow how crooked our justice system is. Scared of a black person and what black people will think if they convict a black man of shooting a police officer so instead they let him go for shooting a police officer but charge him for robbery. His mom said he's a good boy he only robbed someone and he only shot a cop but he's a good boy. I'm sick of this justice system. Got to be nice to people cause they are scared of offending people. So instead of charging the guy let's say the police officer shot himself and say oh its ok to shoot a police officer I'm nc you don't have to worry about getting charged