Recordings suggest chaotic scene at deputy-involved shooting
Posted December 2, 2008
Smithfield, N.C. — Two Johnston County sheriff's deputies were responding to "an extremely intoxicated" and "belligerent crowd" the night one of them fatally shot a Kenly man at his home.
That's according to 911 calls and radio traffic in the Nov. 22 death of Reginald Lee Witcher, 54.
Citing an ongoing investigation, Johnston County authorities have declined to comment about the case and the circumstances that might have led to the shooting,
But the 10 recordings unsealed Tuesday suggest the scene was chaotic prior to and after the shooting, in which a deputy was also injured.
At 8:23 p.m., a man whom authorities identify as Wayne Mooney called 911 reporting his wife "in bad shape" in the front yard with "injuries around her throat."
"We were cooking a pig, and we were doing a little bit of drinking and some alcohol was involved," Mooney says. "And she fell about 3 feet, but I don't know exactly what happened to her."
When EMS arrived, however, paramedics were told that no one called 911, according to a conversation at 8:29 p.m. The paramedic requests for backup, saying a man has a gun, and in a later call, reports "an injured person due to an assault."
Deputy Sgt. J. K. Garner arrives at the scene at 8:56 p.m., followed by Deputy A. J. Case at 8:59 p.m.
In the final recording, Case frantically calls the dispatcher requesting a code 25 for backup after shots are fired, that Witcher has been shot in the head, has no pulse and is not breathing.
The Johnston County sheriff's office has said that when the deputies arrived, Witcher shot at them from his front door, and a deputy returned fire, killing Witcher.
Last week, a Superior Court judge sealed the calls to give investigators time to interview key witnesses in the shooting.
Witcher's family members and friends say they do not believe Witcher would have shot at an officer because he was not a violent man and believe there has to be another explanation about what happened.
Richard Hunter, an attorney for Witcher's family, said Tuesday that the family has hired its own investigators and is interviewing witnesses.
"We have assembled a team of forensic investigators which is now looking at all physical evidence and conducting witness statements in order to be all-inclusive," he said.
Both deputies are on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure for all officer-involved shootings.