Preliminary report: Durham man shot by trooper was shot in back
Posted July 10
Updated July 11
Durham, N.C. — 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.