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UNC student's fraternity under investigation

Posted August 31, 2009
Updated October 8, 2009

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— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is investigating whether a fraternity whose president was fatally shot near Greensboro violated any university rules.

Courtland Smith, a junior biology major from Houston, Texas, was killed early Aug. 23 after a police confrontation following a 911 call during which the 21-year-old repeatedly asked a Guilford County dispatcher to send help.

Archdale police stopped Smith on Interstate 85. A police report said officers shot Smith after a "confrontation ensued."

Smith was also the president of the UNC chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He had reportedly left a party at the fraternity house several hours before the shooting.

In an entry on his blog Friday, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said he has asked the school's Department of Student Affairs to look into that party after Chapel Hill police contacted the university.

"It was obvious that there had been a party there, with alcohol," Thorp wrote. "I know that doesn’t necessarily sound unusual. But in light of the tragedy, we felt that we needed to try to determine whether any university or fraternity policies were violated."

Thorp also wrote that the university will help the fraternity set up a substance-abuse education program after current and former DKE members and parents expressed concern about the party.

It's unclear where Smith was going, but in a 911 recording released last week, he said he was headed to Asheville. He told a dispatcher that he was drunk, had a 9-mm pistol with him and that he was trying to kill himself.

Archdale police said Smith confronted police officer Jeremy Flinchum during a subsequent traffic stop and that Flinchum shot Smith, who died at High Point Regional Hospital.

In the 911 recording, an officer can be heard yelling at him to stay in the car, and the caller can be heard later saying, "I've got to pull something out."

Before the call ends, the caller can be heard yelling "whoa" several times, and someone asks "Where (are) you going?"

It's unclear what happened next. The rest of the recording, as well as contents of a video tape from the dashboard camera of the car that pulled over Smith have been sealed.

WRAL News, The Associated Press and UNC's student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, are among several media outlets that have filed motions asking that the evidence be made public.

In an e-mail to a family friend, Smith's father, Pharr Smith said evidence he's reviewed shows that his son did not have a gun with him.

In a statement last week, Chris Rice, an alumnus of the fraternity, said that information he had indicated that Smith left the party at approximately 12:30 a.m. and "seemed to be fine." He was with roommates at around 2 a.m. and "sounded normal."

The State Bureau of Investigation, is investigating the shooting, which is routine when an officer is involved.

Thorp wrote in his blog that investigators requested a court order for Smith's e-mails and that they have also talked with some students.

He said many parents have asked him not to let this teachable moment pass.

"We still don't know why Courtland died, but we can't let this tragic death pass without learning from it," Thorp wrote.

101 Comments

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  • LabOwner Sep 1, 2009

    Notice how many cops on here are trying to protect their own??? I'm just saying...
    OpinionatedGuy

    YOU have got to be kidding me?! I am not a police nor do I ever want to be but I along with several other posters are not "supporting our own".. we are simply waiting for all of the facts to come to light before we place blame on the police officer. As stated previously.. NONE OF USE were there that early morning so until the facts come out people need to stop assuming it was wrong doing on the cops behalf.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Aug 31, 2009

    I love all the people who weren't there pointing fingers based on a WRAL report. It's awesome the many ways people would have done it differently if it was them.

  • The2ruthHurts Aug 31, 2009

    Why doesn't the Archdale Police take responsibility for their actions?

    I guess you forgot the part where we all agree based on the preliminary findings that Officer Flinchum shot the student. The same Flinchum who works for the Archdale Police Dpt.

  • The2ruthHurts Aug 31, 2009

    rajulio - "Awesome another LE expert.

    These are valid questions."

    I am sure the answers you and everybody else is looking for have been answered in some way or form. The only problem is that there are some who refuse to except the answers they are receiving.

    "Stop dissing people and answer them if you're the expert."

    I am not "dissing" people just being blunt. There are no experts when it comes to these type of situations. There is no way at becoming an expert when facing off with something as dangerous and unpredictable as a drunken man who also took the time to let others know that he was armed with a DEADLY weapon.

    Some are quick to blame authorities since I guess it is alright to complain about those who are only there to "SERVE and protect" you.

    No one was there yet there are those who condemn. To those people I show little sympathy or consideration. If the officer was wrong then I will change my tune if that is the case. Till then..deal with it.

  • Adelinthe Aug 31, 2009

    rajulio - "Awesome another LE expert."

    These are valid questions.

    Stop dissing people and answer them if you're the expert.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Adelinthe Aug 31, 2009

    This is just a ploy to try to deflect the responsibility from the cop who shot him.

    So what if he was drinking.

    So what if alcohol was served to him at a frat party.

    Does any of that mean that it was ok for a cop to shoot an unarmed man???

    And I am by no means a cop hater. I've worked with many in the past, and I respect them. But this cop was wrong - dead wrong.

    God bless.

    RB

  • The2ruthHurts Aug 31, 2009

    Notice how many cops on here are trying to protect their own??? I'm just saying...

    Protecting? Nope. Defending? Yes.

  • The2ruthHurts Aug 31, 2009

    The Archdale Police Chief acknowledges that the use of a stun gun might have been appropriate. Stun guns are cheap. What kind of third rate outfit is the Archdale PD that they can't afford to properly equip their force? Sounds like the cops had to unnecessarily resort to lethal force.

    Awesome another LE expert.

  • thepeopleschamp Aug 31, 2009

    "Stun guns are cheap. What kind of third rate outfit is the Archdale PD" spaminput

    Seriously? You do know that tasers cost a lot more than Glocks, don't you? I've never been to Archdale, but I'm sure they can only spend as much money as budgeted to them by the city.

  • OpinionatedGuy Aug 31, 2009

    Notice how many cops on here are trying to protect their own??? I'm just saying...

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