Local News

Preliminary report: Durham man shot by trooper was shot in back

Posted July 10
Updated July 11

— A Durham man killed in an officer-involved shooting in February was shot in the back, according to a preliminary report released Monday by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Authorities said Willard Eugene Scott Jr. failed to stop on U.S. Highway 501 near Duke Street on Feb. 12 when Trooper Jerimy Mathis turned on sirens and blue lights.

After a brief pursuit, Scott exited his vehicle and began to run. During the chase, Mathis fired his gun and struck Scott, who authorities said had displayed a gun. Scott was transported to Duke Regional Hospital where he later died.

The report states Scott sustained a gunshot wound to the left side of his lower back and “the trajectory of the wound track is back to front.” Scott also sustained a gunshot wound to his buttocks.

The report states Scott died on the operating table as a result of “major aortic injury with massive blood loss.”

The Durham NAACP on Saturday held a rally demanding that autopsy results be released. Following the release of the report, the organization issued a statement calling on the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate Mathis’ actions and release any video, audio or documents pertaining to the incident to the family.

The NAACP also called on the Durham district attorney to prosecute Mathis and called on the North Carolina Highway Patrol to implement de-escalation training for officers.

“Accountability is the only way to stop these killings all across the country. As long as officers are being let off the hook in each case, the next officer will think they can get away with it too,” the NAACP said in a statement.

The Highway Patrol declined to comment in response to the report.

SBI officials said the investigation is not yet complete due to outstanding lab reports.


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  • Bobby Caudle Aug 18, 7:34 a.m.
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    obey the law and officer's commands and ya don't get shot. period!

  • Benjamin Kite Jul 12, 1:06 p.m.
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    In a year or two when this reaches trial, the citizens of Durham will be crushed a second time by the LEOs inevitable acquittal. We all know it is true.

  • Ben Hill Jul 11, 9:28 p.m.
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    A perfect example of this...


  • John Johnson Jul 11, 6:06 p.m.
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    Past Records Show Drug, And Twice Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon. He Ran and Put Himself in that Position. ncap only seem to Care More About the Criminals, Than Helping Those WHO Really Could Use/Need Their Help. Why is That!!??

  • Eric Davis Jul 11, 1:51 p.m.
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    Mr Drumgoole, also no conviction when white men are shot by LEO. When you play stupid games you win stupid prizes.

  • Jeff Freuler Jul 11, 12:32 p.m.
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    There has been quite a few now go read up on it

  • Jeff Freuler Jul 11, 12:31 p.m.
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    Not necessarily and you need to go study use of force along with some case law. Again Just because someone is shot in back doesn't mean it was murder.

  • Ben Hill Jul 11, 11:17 a.m.
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    This is not an accurate analogy. A home owner is allowed to protect himself, his family and in some cases, his property. A home owner is not tasked with protecting the community and its citizens from dangerous individuals, law enforcement is. You need to compare apples to apples.

    Mr. Scott chose to flee law enforcement while in possession of a gun, which makes him a perceived danger to the community. The investigation into this incident is not yet complete, so the NAACP call for charges against Officer Mathis as well as your claims of murder are premature and may prove to be ultimately wrong.

  • Clarence Drumgoole Jul 11, 10:36 a.m.
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    A home owner shoot someone in the back, it's murder! He was shot in the back.

  • Sean Creasy Jul 11, 9:16 a.m.
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    Why is it that when LEO shoots someone who is black it's always "because he was black"? Waving a gun around during a traffic stop didn't have anything to do with it?? How about running away after waving said gun? What is law enforcement supposed to do? Wait until he kills one of them to respond appropriately? Seems that every time I hear that it was "because he was black" there is more to it than that.. No it WASN'T because he was BLACK, it was because he was STUPID!!!