Local News

Autopsy: Man killed by officer was shot in back

Posted December 19, 2008 4:44 p.m. EST
Updated December 24, 2008 8:36 a.m. EST

— Members of Fayetteville's black community expressed anger Friday upon learning that a man who was killed last month by a police officer had been shot in the back.

Officer Michael Yount shot Kenmara Alvona Davis, 26, near Post Avenue and Hawkins Road while responding to reports of shots fired Nov. 27. Davis was pronounced dead at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

An released Thursday determined Davis had been shot once in the lower back, which backed witnesses' statements that Davis was running from Yount when he was shot.

"It's almost the worst news that could have come back," said Myron Pitts, a columnist with the Fayetteville Observer newspaper and the brother of former Fayetteville Mayor Marshall Pitts.

Myron Pitts said he's concerned that the shooting could spark a protest in Fayetteville's black community.

"The legal side of it might even clear Officer Yount, but the perception is it just looks bad in this African-American community – that an officer shot this young African-American in the back," he said.

John Midgette, executive director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, cautioned against reading too much into the autopsy results. Studies have shown a suspect can turn in the couple of seconds it takes for an officer to fire his or her weapon, he said.

The autopsy also showed that Davis was "highly intoxicated" at the time of the shooting, which could support Yount's account of the incident.

The medical examiner's report also says that Davis fired first after Yount ordered him to take his hand out of his pocket. The bullet shattered the driver's side window of Yount's patrol car, the report said.

Police said that Yount was sent to investigate reports of shots fired in the vicinity of Post Avenue and Hawkins Street and found Davis stumbling in the street. Yount fired back at Davis in self-defense, police said.

allows officers to use deadly force to arrest suspects trying to escape or those who present an imminent threat.

Police declined to comment Friday on the case, which remains under investigation.

Jimmy Buxton, head of the Fayetteville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that he wants to know exactly what happened that night before taking a position in the case.

"We need to know the facts," Buxton said. "(The autopsy report is) not enough for me to say it was in the wrong because I'm not doing the investigation. The investigation is done by experts, and this is what I'm asking everyone: to wait until the experts come back with their findings and then we'll make our decisions."

Three weeks before the shooting, Yount was cleared of any wrongdoing in a June shooting of three men who attacked him and his police dog.

Yount has been placed on administrative duty while the State Bureau of Investigation investigates the latest case, standard procedure whenever an officer shoots someone.