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Questions linger after deputy-involved shooting

Posted November 24, 2008
Updated November 25, 2008

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— The Johnston County Sheriff's Office declined to comment Monday on the weekend shooting of a Kenly man killed by a sheriff's deputy, leaving more questions than answers for those who knew him.

Two deputies went to 2349 Glendale Road shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday in response to a request by local paramedics for backup.

When they arrived, according to a sheriff's spokeswoman, Reginald Lee Witcher, 54, shot at the officers from his front door. A deputy returned fire, hitting and killing Witcher.

But those who knew Witcher said Monday there has to be a different explanation about what happened, because he was not a violent man and would never point a gun at someone.

"It just shocked me and my wife," said Garland Stancil who lives across the street from Witcher. "It just tore us up."

Stancil said Witcher and his wife, Belinda, had guests at their home Saturday night and that a female guest told him they called 911 when she fell.

"Then, when 911 got there, then I understand, they said something to Belinda that Belinda didn't like," he said.

Johnston County sheriff spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said an EMS call was received at 8:23 p.m. and that paramedics arrived to the residence at 8:40 p.m.

EMS requested assistance from the sheriff's office at 8:41 p.m., she said but could not say why. The deputies arrived at 8:56 p.m., and a shot was fired at 9:05 p.m., Amaon said.

Scott Blecke, EMS division chief in Johnston County, said paramedics reported several people at the residence who were uncooperative and interfering with their ability to treat the female guest.

Both deputies, Deputy Sgt. J.K. Garner and Deputy A.J. Case, are on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure for all officer-involved shootings.

Although authorities won't comment, Stancil suggested, based on a conversation with another neighbor, the shooting might have been a misunderstanding.

"Reg saw them and maybe got up and was going to put his gun up, and the guy thought he was going to shoot him. So, he shot Reg," Stancil said. "That's my view of it."


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  • brentgale Dec 2, 2008

    EMS got a call about a woman who was injured in the front yard. When EMS arrived, they encountered what they reported as several intoxicated people in the yard, so they requested law enforcement(I WOULD HAVE TOO!!) WHat happened after that is all on the recordings that are posted on this site.

  • Lady Justice Nov 26, 2008

    "Care should always be taken when firing into areas where one does not have complete visibility. If that means standing out behind that ambulance until dawn, stand."

    So, when the police back down and hide because somebody else MAY be near, and it then turns into a hostage situation with the kids that MAY be there, will you then ask why the police did not do something when they had a chance? Or maybe when the police are being fired upon they do not have the time, or an object to hide behind. What then? It is so easy to decide what the police should and should not do, especially when you are not there when all the action is actually going on. Think maybe they are trained to take those things into consideration? Is there ever any area (excpet maybe in the desert), that you have FULL visibility?

  • familyfour Nov 25, 2008

    Never, ever, ever fire at law enforcement. Is that really gonna have to be a rule of personal safety?

    This is absolutely tragic. It may have been a misunderstanding....but...IF he did fire at the cops, there really isn't a whole lot to say in his defense.

  • Alexia.1 Nov 25, 2008

    What concerns me with this story is that shots were fired toward the house without consideration of the possibility that a kid might be inside on the receiving end of a stray bullet. Care should always be taken when firing into areas where one does not have complete visibility. If that means standing out behind that ambulance until dawn, stand.

  • CrewMax Nov 25, 2008

    I am wondering what went on when the EMS was there that caused them to call the police. Did they say something that made the law go into hyper-defensive mode? Did the victim brandish the weapon at them, but decide to put it up when the law got there, because they carry guns, too? I don't know, and we probably won't ever know if it was a terrible misunderstanding.

  • Garnerwolf1 Nov 25, 2008

    So, let me get the straight. The person interviewed said they had guests over. Take alcohol out of the equation because nothing in the articles states that (although it seems implied). The deceased, with guests, just happened to have a loaded shotgun out, and apparently close by. And that he just happened to decide to put it up once the deputies arrived? And the fact that EMS felt the need to summon law enforcement had nothing to do with it. Do people really believe this stuff?

  • COPs eye Nov 25, 2008

    Remember that the persons interviewed were not there and the ones that were there were intoxicated.So of course in their eyes or should we say beer goggles the story seems unclear.Remember when u r told to put the gun down..PUT IT DOWN!!! It doesnt matter if you are at your house or not!!!This is another case where alcohol and guns do not mix and Mr. Witcher's judgement was impaired by his being intoxicated.

  • COPs eye Nov 25, 2008

    Unfortunately once again the media has dug up more mud in a puddle.Tragicly Mr. Witcher shot at Sgt Garner and Dep Case and was killed as a result of HIS actions.All these people that make judging the actions of the officers are the same persons would be dead in the same situations if they were the police.I know both Deputies and they were justified in their actions and the SBI will find same in their investigation.If u have never been to a house where there was a disruptive person and tried to contrl the situation then u are basing your comments on the media output.Everyone knows the media is ignorant and manipulates stories to boost sales of papers and Nielson ratings.Dont buy into their ignorance.AS FAR AS A REDNECK WITH A BADGE...we make more than that.An u probably are lashing out with your comments because u have been charged with a criminal act.

  • Justin T. Nov 25, 2008

    I wish I'd read all the comments before I posted... I would have added:

    When you don't know any facts... don't blame law enforcement, either.

  • pebbles262004 Nov 25, 2008

    If he was putting his gun "away" why did he shoot out the door at the law!!!!!!!! That was a very crazy comment for his friend to make.