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Attorney: Deputy fired multiple times

Posted December 8, 2008

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— An attorney for Reginald Lee Witcher's family says he believes a Johnston County sheriff's deputy fired his gun multiple times before striking the 54-year-old Kenly man at his home.

Richard Hunter said Monday that information he has indicates one of two deputies outside Witcher's home on the night of Nov. 22 fired his weapon eight or nine times.

Two or three of those bullets hit Witcher. Another bullet struck and killed Witcher's 11-year-old Dalmatian, Hunter said.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office maintains Witcher fired first at the two deputies, who were called to the scene to provide backup to EMS workers responding to a 911 call at the residence.

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. They say they believe there has to be another explanation about what happened.

The State Bureau of Investigation is still conducting an investigation into the shooting, and both deputies, Deputy A. J. Case and Deputy Sgt. J. K. Garner, are on administrative leave with pay.

Hunter also said Monday that Witcher's wife and two neighbors, who were at the residence that night, as well as Witcher's brother-in-law, who had a chance to see the scene, met with SBI agents on Friday, gave statements and handed over physical evidence from the scene.

Hunter, however, would not say what that evidence was.

According to 911 calls and radio traffic released last week, deputies were responding to what was described on the recordings as "an extremely intoxicated" and "belligerent crowd."

In one recording, Case frantically calls a Johnston County dispatcher requesting backup after shots are fired, says the victim has been shot in the head, has no pulse and is not breathing.

Although, according to a search warrant, SBI agents seized a spent shotgun shell and a shotgun from the residence, Hunter has said the evidence does not prove Witcher fired at deputies.

"Don't read too much into items recovered from the scene," Hunter said last week in response to the warrant. “Mr. Witcher was an outdoorsman. He was a hunter and fisherman. He had guns in his house for hunting and protection.”

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  • sing2god Dec 15, 2008

    This will be my one and only comment on this tragedy. When the autopsy report is released, if the entrance wounds are in the back then we will recognize this as a bad shoot. When the forensics are made public, if there is no residue indicating a shotgun firing on the interior side of the door frame, then we will recognize this as a bad shoot. There are no winners in this, no matter the outcome of the reports.

  • leo-nc Dec 9, 2008

    Paul, you'd be better off just letting it go at this point because you are completely lost.

  • Alexia.1 Dec 9, 2008

    Wolf80, I told you that I didn't intend to get people's emotions worked up. I know there are situations where it is impossible to avoid, but I get the feeling this is one of those cases where there was an alternative. It will all come out in the court case, I'm sure.

    But to the point about taking a bullet and getting the suspect: I did not suggest that. I only suggested to get out of the way -- wait for the guy to put the gun down. If he came out on the front porch and started shooting, perhaps shooting him would have been necessary. But, as he was inside the house and officers were shooting into the house, there was a risk of killing innocent children.

    So, relax and don't get worked up. Perhaps this was one of those unavoidable situations where the police were standing face-to-face with the shooter and had no options.

  • wolf80 Dec 9, 2008

    PauleJ

    Just for your info, the majority of police shooting occur with in 4 feet of the suspect......

  • wolf80 Dec 9, 2008

    paulej

    Can you move at 25oo feet per second. If you can, perhaps you SHOULD be a law enforcement officer, as you fit the bill most of the ill informed public want, SUPERMAN. Who can disarm an armed subject without anyone getting hurt, someone who can take a bullet and then take the suspect into custody, someone who DOES NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IF HE LIVES OR DIES for a thankless public. You I, I picture as one who is too much of a coward to stand up for those who are in harms way without reguard of his/her safety as those who serve us day in and day out.

  • leo-nc Dec 9, 2008

    "Deputy fired multiple times?

    Doesn't a person generally get fired only ONCE from a job?

    I guess it just seems like overkill."---

    You lost me there. Maybe you're trying to make some sort of joke. I don't really know but you can rest assured two things. If someone shoots at an officer, then that officer is going to protect himself. If it means emptying a mag in the guy to terminate the threat, then so be it. You people blame the police for this stuff all the time, yet the real blame falls on the idiot who raised a shotgun to an officer, then attemtped to kill him.

    As for shootings needing to stop, put your focus where it belongs. On the criminals. Until you do that and fight the real enemy here, you're not going to see the result you wish for.

  • leo-nc Dec 9, 2008

    Paul, you are completely lost and until you've been in any kind of similar situation, you know nothing. That's just the way it is. It has nothing to do with emotion. You really need to brush up on what an LEO does, what they are charged with as their oath and what sometimes they need to do in dangerous situations. What part of the deputies being shot at do you not understand? Do you not understand that the person does not have to shoot first? Even if he raises a gun to an officer, the officer has the right to shoot to protect themselves and others. there was a real danger here for everyone involved. The only thing that could have prevented this shooting was the drunk guy himself. He chose to die by being stupid, and now you're going to blame the police.

  • Randy Cox Dec 9, 2008

    Deputy fired multiple times?

    Doesn't a person generally get fired only ONCE from a job?

    I guess it just seems like overkill.

  • Alexia.1 Dec 9, 2008

    Like several other cases where officers claimed to have done the right thing, one really never knows. It will likely take a court case to bring out the truth.

    But, I did mean what I said. Given a dangerous situation, yes -- tuck tail and run. Do not stand there and get shot. I'm by no means trying to put officers' lives in danger. I'm suggesting the opposite. And, if the man kills others, then he is to blame. Officers should take time to fully examine the situation and not hastily return fire if there is *any* alternative that could have been taken to avoid the death of a person.

    If that man really shot at officers, he may be as well off dead as in prison. But, it is possible that a small child could have been killed or another person standing around inside.

    So, do not get upset over this. It is amazing how emotions get stirred, and that is not my intent. I just feel horrible that I see so many officers across the country shooting and killing people and it needs to stop.

  • bngexpress Dec 9, 2008

    other than doing his job(to PROTECT AND SERVE), the officer in question only reacted to being shot at! our basic instinct is to survive and to return home to our family.it's sad that anyone died, but if you shoot at a leo , the penalty maybe more than you expect.

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