Local News

Fatal Shooting of Dunn Teen Ruled Justified

Posted December 29, 2006

— Authorities on Friday ruled that Dunn police were justified in fatally shooting a teen while trying to serve arrest warrants on him.

Officers shot Matthew Leon Burris, 19, seven times on Aug. 17 as they tried to arrest him in connection with the shooting of a 17-year-old, authorities said.

District Attorney Tom Lock, who oversees Harnett County, issued a report Friday saying he reviewed a State Bureau of Investigation report on the shooting and deemed the action justified.

The incident prompted an outcry from Dunn's minority community. Many residents maintained police shot an unarmed teen.

Dunn Police Chief B.P. Jones refused to name the officers involved, saying he feared for their safety, and the police department heightened security for weeks after the shooting.

Lock's report identified the officers as Regina Autry, Scott Epperson and David Register. Capt. Tony Strickland and officers Dallas Autry and Kirk Whittenton also were at the scene during the shooting, the report said.

Police were responding to a tip that Burris was in a house at 601 N. Magnolia Ave. The teen was wanted on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and carrying a concealed weapon, authorities said.

After Regina Autry entered the house, which was owned by Ruth Watson, who isn't related to Burris, she saw Burris reach for the front of his pants and try to close himself into a bedroom, the report said. Autry tried to push her way into the bedroom and saw the butt of a handgun protruding from Burris' pants, the report said.

Autry and Burris struggled in the bedroom, and Epperson, who was behind Autry, and Register, who was looking through a window said they saw Burris pull a gun from his pants, the report said. Epperson and Register fired their weapons, killing Burris.

A .38-caliber revolver was recovered from the living room floor of the house, where Burris collapsed after being shot, the report said. The gun was matched to the weapon used in an earlier shooting, the report said.

An autopsy determined that Burris had been shot four times in his torso and three times in his arms and right thigh. Two of the bullets recovered from his torso were matched to Epperson's 9 mm handgun, and a third was matched to Register's 9mm rifle, the report said.

"Officers must make split-second decisions regarding their use of force," Lock wrote in the report. "Under the circumstances observed by Officers Epperson and Register in this case, their use of deadly force was both reasonable and warranted."

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  • narck9 Mar 21, 2007

    He got what he deserved. The world is better without him.

  • anthsco Dec 31, 2006

    boo-hoo...boo-hoo...i agree with the earlier comment about this kid should have a had a knot jerked into him earlier in his life.Maybe if someone had shown him some tough love he may have ended up better.

  • ncinked Dec 31, 2006

    Your criminal acts catch up to you sooner or later. Hopefully no one gets hurt when its time to pay the piper. I am glad the Officers got home safe and took a CRIMINAL off the street. He had a choice but threw it all away. Blame the CRIMINAL not the police.

  • demily322 Dec 31, 2006

    I am a nice person, but... this kid was not a good person. what use was he? yes im sure his family loved him blah blah blah... but for petes sakes.. its not like he was doing anything constructive in life or for society.

  • amandaalmendares Dec 30, 2006

    Anderson... This was different from the teenager in New Hanover because the teenager there was armed with a Play Station paddle. This dude in Dunn had the very same gun that was used in the crimes that got the police there in the first place. Hello... that wasn't hard to figure out.

  • Fuquay Resident Dec 30, 2006

    Maybe if his loving family and jerked a knott in his butt years ago, he wouldn't have turned in to a thug.

  • brentsykes Dec 30, 2006

    obviously, this was a trouble-making thug...when will people ever learn how to act....? if he had been a normal, law abiding citizen, he would still be here....good job officers, at least the hard working, tax-paying citizens dont have to pay for him to sit in jail and feed him forever....learn how to act people !!!!!

  • mose8382 Dec 30, 2006

    Not saying that the shooting wasn't justified because I am sure that it was. I am also glad that no officers were hurt. But we also have to remember that this young man had family that loved him no matter what he had done. I just don't think we should be happy and his death rather sad that it had to end this way for all involved.

  • ifcdirector Dec 29, 2006

    Perhaps if the NAACP spent more time working on building greater moral fiber in these criminals they would not have the occasion to have to monitor these cases of their deaths or trials so much. Nah........that would make too much sense plus you can't get more funds that way from your benefactors if you simply work to better the people you represent. Better let the status quo continue. That officer is lucky to have competent and quick thinking officers backing her up.

  • builder276 Dec 29, 2006

    live by the sword, die by the sword. time to tell the National Association of Always Complaining People to try another situation to blow out of perspective. No not racism, just killing a killer