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Autopsy: Kenly man shot multiple times

Posted December 16, 2008

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— A Kenly man, shot last month by a Johnston County sheriff's deputy, was hit three times and died from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

Reginald Lee Witcher, 54, was shot once in the left thigh and once in the back in addition to the chest wound, but the report does not indicate the order of the shots. The bullet that hit his chest also pierced his heart and his coronary artery.

On Nov. 22, two deputies went to Witcher's home at 2349 Glendale Road in response to a paramedic's request for backup.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office said that when the deputies arrived, Witcher shot at them from his front door and that a deputy returned fire, striking and killing him.

Witcher's family and friends have said they believe the shooting was unjustified and that they do not believe Witcher would have shot at an officer.

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure, and both deputies involved, Deputy A. J. Case and Deputy Sgt. J. K. Garner, are on paid administrative leave.

According to 911 recordings and search warrants, Witcher and his wife were entertaining guests at their home when someone called 911 reporting that a female guest had fallen.

When emergency workers responded to the call, however, they were told no one had called 911. A paramedic requested the deputies' assistance after reporting seeing a man with a gun.

The deputies responded to what was described on the recordings as "an extremely intoxicated" and "belligerent crowd."

According to the autopsy report, Witcher's blood alcohol concentration was 0.3 grams per milliliter of blood, which is almost four times the state's limit to drive of 0.08 grams per milliliter.

The bullet that hit in the upper chest fractured a rib, perforated his lung and caused extensive damage to the main pulmonary artery.

The Witcher family's attorney, Richard Hunter, declined to comment Tuesday, citing the family's own investigation into what happened that night.

Investigators recovered a spent shotgun shell and a shotgun from Witcher's home, but Hunter has said that does not prove Witcher fired at the deputies.


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  • shandra7 Dec 19, 2008

    oh little bits of information...he was shot in the back... he was on his own property...the police snuck up to the house without announcing themselves, no sirens, one was an unmarked police car, and oh yea the best one yet.the police took his shirt off and turned it around backwards to make it look as if they hadnt shot him in the back!!!! and lets not forget the official report...according to police the rescue workers were there the entire time...yet in the 911 tapes you here the deputies ask for the ems to come back after the man was shot... and yes leo you definatly do have to wait for someone to shoot first!!! It DOES matter weahter he shot first or not!You are not God and do not get to decide weather or not you get to kill someone just because you have a badge and a gun!! How many other crooked self rightous cops like you are out there."So what's your point? Even if he didn't shoot first, so what." as u stated- More of that you(the man with a badge) against us- the public

  • sing2god Dec 18, 2008

    hmmmm...three people on a 4 foot deep front porch in front of the door. Shotgun supposedly goes off, but no wounds on any of the three (two officers and the neighbor) other than some superficial woulds caused by broken tempered glass. No residue from the supposed blast on the door frame or the pieces of broken glass. If you read the autopsy report, the fatal wound is downward and from behind (read about the track of the bullet). Looks like this could be a difficult one for the (usually) good guys.
    By the way, there were only four folks there (the Witchers and their neighbors). That does not support the commonly held belief that there was a large drunken crowd. No winners no matter which way it comes out.

  • sales123 Dec 17, 2008

    Man beats wife??? Where did that come from Leo-NC? I have not seen that mentioned anywhere. Were you there? If so fill us in on exactly what happened. Until then why does everyone keep guessing? It is taking a long time to get this SBI report. Leo-NC--quick question--if someone is walking through my front yard with a gun is it ok for me to unload on them or do I need a badge to do that. If he shot first then they did the right thing. If he did not shoot first then they murdered him and should face the same thing a regular citizen would.

  • leo-nc Dec 17, 2008

    "It could be that the shot gun went off after the police shot, and kept shooting him"--

    So what's your point? Even if he didn't shoot first, so what. We have the right to go home and be with our family, not die because we waited for some drunken idiot to shoot first.

  • whatusay Dec 17, 2008

    It could be that the shot gun went off after the police shot, and kept shooting him.

  • OpinionatedGuy Dec 17, 2008

    Lots of “cops” jumping to the defense of their fellow comrades…

    I would like to see an unbiased report, complete with NOTHING held back before I rush to judgment…

    Bits and Pieces make me believe that he was shot in the back… Let’s not forget that the cops shot his dog and arrested his wife… in addition to killing him…

  • TechRescue Dec 17, 2008

    The SBI will rule on whether the shooting was justified - however, it is irrelevant how many times he was shot. Anyone with any training at all in self defense is taught that once a decision has been made to use deadly force you continue to fire until you either run out of bullets or the subject is down.

    What happened is terrible, but one of the primary rules of gun safety is that you never let anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs handle firearms - it's a tragedy waiting to happen, regardless of who turns out to be right or wrong. Guns (as well as cars) should be put up before the alcohol comes out.

  • leo-nc Dec 17, 2008

    "I think there's something fishy going on..but we'll never know...too many state paid agencies involved to get any real truth.AS alway's they will cover each other's back's. Same 'ol politic's as alway's."---

    blah blah blah.... Same old stuff

  • doubletap357 Dec 17, 2008

    From what has been made available to the public, I would say that the shooting was completely justified and proper. The SBI will make the facts available when their investigation is complete. Only the SBI has the ability to see all the evidence at this point.

  • rroadrunner99 Dec 17, 2008

    I think there's something fishy going on..but we'll never know...too many state paid agencies involved to get any real truth.AS alway's they will cover each other's back's. Same 'ol politic's as alway's.