Local News

Driver's family wants answers in state trooper shooting

Posted July 2, 2012
Updated July 5, 2012

— The family of a Roanoke Rapids man shot to death by a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper over the weekend wants more answers about what led to the shooting.

The Highway Patrol says trooper Matt Pitman pulled over James Russell Moore, 64, Friday night on U.S. Highway 158 for suspicion of drunken driving.

Moore got out of the car with a loaded gun and pointed it at Pitman "in a threatening manner," they say. That’s when Pitman fired a shot, killing Moore.

But Moore's nephew, Brian Smith, insists his uncle never would have intentionally aimed a gun at a law enforcement officer.

The family wants to fight the perception that Moore was drunk and wielding a weapon when he died.

"It is the most devastating thing I've ever heard in my life," Smith said Monday on behalf of his family. "It's hard to believe because of who he was and how he's treated me and my whole family and all of his friends. It's just unfathomable that this could happen to this man."

Smith said Moore was a grandfather of two who was kind, well-respected in the community and had many friends, including police officers, two ex-girlfriends and his ex-wife. He said Moore didn't have a violent bone in his body.

"I totally do not believe it happened like that," he said. "The fact that (the Highway Patrol) is not coming to us and telling us anything leads me to believe that it can't be the way it was. He would not do that."

Pittman, 24, who was sworn in as a trooper in March 2011, has been placed on administrative leave while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews the matter, which is standard for officer-involved shootings.

Smith says he's not trying to place blame but wants to find out the truth.

"I don't want to tarnish (Pittman), because I don't know what happened. I do know what didn't happen," Smith said. "I don't know what he was thinking. I don't know if he overreacted. I don't know if he was malicious. I don't wish harm on him. I want justice."

Patrol spokesman 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon said Pitman's cruiser was not equipped with a dashboard camera.

He said equipping each vehicle with a camera is an ongoing project because there are more than 2,000 troopers across the state and each camera costs $5,500.



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  • randalljacobs Jul 9, 2012

    "He said equipping each vehicle with a camera is an ongoing project because there are more than 2,000 troopers across the state and each camera costs $5,500"

    If they had to do each car (2,000 x 5,500= $11 mil)but some cars have dash camera's, I am sure the state could have already had this done by now if they really wanted to....

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 3, 2012

    That is fine though I see that people will justify anything an officer does even when it is clearly illegal. I'm not saying there was anything illegal about what happened in this case. Although, there is a reasonable suspicion and questions by people that knew this man. That there needs to be an investigation in any death and not here is the officers report and it is good enough because he says so.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 3, 2012

    Champ more hours doesn't mean better training or the proper training. Yes I have a very good idea because not only have I at one time was in the law enforcement realm my father still is for the past 30 years. Lack of training! Period

  • twc Jul 3, 2012

    What could possibly have been wrong with my previous post?

    You people are very annoying !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • twc Jul 3, 2012

    The vast majority of law enforcement I believe are worthy and honorable. Some are not. An investigation into this incident will help give an indication of whether this officer deserves to be counted amongst those honorable officers.

    That seems fair and just to me. A thorough investigation by honorable investigators! With a lie detector test!

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 3, 2012

    "the younger group coming in don't get as much training on how to deal with people" jjsmith1973

    I'm guessing you probably have no idea how much training anyone gets anyway. 20 years ago BLET was 11 weeks, in 2012 it is about 16+ weeks. And thats just BLET, not counting departmental training officers. So what department is training LESS now than they used to? Please specify. The truth doesn't have to twist words.

  • Classified Jul 3, 2012

    "Why do you thinks NC isn't like other states with high crime.” ASU

    North Carolina ranks 30 out of 50 for violent crime. That’s on the wrong side of center buddy. The crime of a few select cities in NC beats the entire crime rate of some states.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 3, 2012

    Umm. no thepeopleschamp they aren't but there is something call the escalation of force ladder. Most of these officer don't pay attention to it and there is also officer that have told me the younger group coming in don't get as much training on how to deal with people. SO, once again good try on the twisting of the words. Yes, lack of training does lead to problems.

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 3, 2012

    "Most of the time they have problems with a criminal because they have no training in dealing with anyone." jjsmith1973

    So criminals are pretty easy to get along with huh? Funniest comment all week. Thanks. Have a good 4th.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 3, 2012

    Well assult, let see a bouncer deals with more assults than an officer. Typically the crime has already been commited when they arrive. Rarely are they shot at ever. They have an escalation of force because they do have a gun and act the way they do. Most of the time they have problems with a criminal because they have no training in dealing with anyone. If you "resist" which is whatever the officer wants to make it. She didn't dit down as soon as I wanted her too. He didn't stand where I told him fast enough even though I wasn't clear on what I said. They over use and tack on assault even when no assault happened. Wake up, open you eyes, and see what is going on here

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