911 calls in deputy shooting to be released
Posted November 26, 2008
Smithfield, N.C. — A Superior Court judge has ruled that 911 calls and traffic recordings related to an officer-involved shooting that killed a Kenly man may be released.
Judge Tom Lock on Wednesday gave investigators until noon Dec. 2 to finish any work they say needs to be done in the Nov. 22 death of Reginald Lee Witcher before the recordings become public record.
Witcher, 54, died Saturday night after a Johnston County sheriff's deputy shot himat his home at 2349 Glendale Road. A sheriff's spokeswoman said that when deputies arrived, Witcher shot at them from his front door, and a deputy returned fire.
Lock on Tuesday ordered the recordings to be sealed, saying that releasing them could jeopardize the ongoing investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.
At a hearing Friday, District Attorney Susan Doyle said that she requested the recordings be sealed until all key witnesses had been interviewed.
Unless the state files another motion to keep the records under seal, they are expected to be released at noon Dec. 2.
Wednesday's decision came after a hearing in which attorneys for The News & Observer newspaper asked Lock to vacate his order.
Authorities have declined to explain specific details and circumstances that led to the shooting.
A preliminary investigative report states that the deputies were responding to paramedics' request for assistance because of a "highly intoxicated crowd."
Johnston County EMS officials said a crew was there to treat a female guest who had fallen at Witcher's home.
The two deputies, Deputy Sgt. J.K. Garner and Deputy A.J. Case, are both on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure for all officer-involved shootings.