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Report: Man who tangled with deputies had cocaine in system

Posted July 16, 2009

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— A man who engaged in a shootout with sheriff's deputies in the woods of Lenoir County had cocaine in his system at the time, a report released Thursday shows.

Clarence Douglas Phillips, 43, died at Lenoir Memorial Hospital on April 8 from gunshot wounds sustained during the shootout. Lenoir County Sheriff's Deputy Allen Pearson was killed in the incident and Deputy Ryan Dawson was shot, but has recovered.

Autopsy and toxicology reports released Thursday show Phillips had three gunshot wounds to his torso and one to his leg. He had cocaine and metabloized cocaine in his system.

Craven County authorities believe Phillips shot and killed his girlfriend, Cynthia Tillett Knighten, 49, in New Bern before encountering authorities.

A man reported that Phillips drove a vehicle into a wooded area off Tick Bite Road, near Grifton, and was firing a gun.

Authorities said deputies arrived at the scene and repeatedly asked Phillips to surrender. A state Highway Patrol helicopter helped identify Phillips' location in the woods and then officers began approaching him.

As officers entered the woods, Phillips began firing at them, Lenoir County Sheriff Billy Smith said. Deputies returned fire.

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, which is routine in officer-involved shootings.


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  • Life-goes-on. Jul 17, 2009

    Deputy Ryan Dawson was shot, but has recovered.

  • voiceofreason32 Jul 17, 2009

    Wow, nice WRAL. He TANGLED with police. Nice title to this article. He murdered a police officer. How about: Man who murders Deputy had cocaine in system. People don't die when you "tangle" with them.

  • working for deadbeats Jul 16, 2009

    I'm glad he didn't make it.

    RIP deputy. Thanks for your service.