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Spring Lake officer cleared after 17 months

Posted November 21, 2008

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— A Spring Lake police officer who spent more than a year on administrative leave for shooting a man was cleared Thursday of any wrongdoing.

Officer Jose Garcia was serving a warrant on Shawn Smith, 36, of 106 Rupe St., on June 18, 2007, when Smith fled on foot. Garcia chased Smith behind First Baptist Church of Spring Lake and fired his .40-caliber Glock pistol when he saw Smith display what appeared to be a weapon, police said.

Smith was shot twice, but later recovered from his injuries.

The State Bureau of Investigation spent much of the time since the shooting reviewing the case, as it does with all officer-involved shootings in North Carolina. The SBI's findings were eventually handed over to Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis, who on Thursday sent a letter to Garcia, Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown and the SBI to announce his decision not to press charges in the case.

“I do not believe there is enough evidence to submit this matter to the Cumberland County Grand Jury for its consideration,” Grannis wrote.

Grannis said Smith's statements to investigators proved that he wouldn't be a credible witness in the case. Also, there was evidence that Smith had a history of confrontations with police officers and that his blood was found on a brick at the scene of the shooting, supporting Garcia's claim that Smith was prepared to attack him.

Garcia couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

Brown said he hasn't decided whether to put Garcia back on patrol.


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  • thepeopleschamp Nov 21, 2008

    It took 17 months to review something that happened in a matter of seconds? If it takes the SBI 17 months to decide in an office if the shooting was right or wrong, imagine how stressfull it is on the officer who had a split second to decide what to do.

  • kimmyrn6 Nov 21, 2008

    Unfortunately, this case is the norm. Those who are doing the wrong things have much more liberty than those doing the right. Bureaucracy moves slow, without thought to the individual's life that is interrupted and hanging in the balance. It really is sad. . .

  • anonemoose Nov 21, 2008

    And we wonder why Spring Lake PD has such a bad reputation. The officer did his job, and was cleared after 17 months of foot dragging, and now the chief (small "c" intentional) isn't sure if he will put him on patrol. Well, keep him on the desk if you want, but let him send out resume's in his spare time and take time off for interviews.

  • workingforthosethatwont Nov 21, 2008

    Someone and everyone involved should be reprimanded severely for dragging this out so long. Good job Officer Garcia, glad you weren't hurt. Now go find an agency to work for that won't treat you like this.

  • johnny2times Nov 21, 2008

    Its unreal to know that if you do your job, your the one treated like a suspect. 17 months?! come on.

  • WHEEL Nov 21, 2008

    17 months, boy this case had a high priority.