Local News

Chatham deputy cleared in shooting of drug trafficking suspect

Posted September 29, 2008 11:33 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2008 10:43 a.m. EDT

— The district attorney's office has cleared a Chatham County sheriff's deputy of any wrongdoing in the shooting of a suspected drug trafficker during an April raid.

Deputy J. Cruz shot and wounded the suspect while serving a search warrant for drugs at a home at 75 Irene Court in Siler City on April 14.

"Based on my review of the comprehensive investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, Deputy J. Cruz acted lawfully and reasonably to protect his own life and the lives of the other deputies on the scene," Kayley Taber, Chatham County managing assistant district attorney, said in a statement.

Cruz was the first deputy through the door and immediately encountered the suspect, who was holding a handgun, Taber said. The suspect did not obey orders to drop the gun, but instead, pointed it at Cruz.

"At that time, the deputy felt his life was in jeopardy and discharged his firearm, striking the suspect," Taber said. "I believe this action saved Deputy Cruz' life and was justified based on the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident."

Investigators recovered the handgun and determined that it was "operable, loaded, with the hammer back," Taber said.

A subsequent search of the mobile home turned up more than 7 kilograms of cocaine.

"This incident underscores the dangerous nature of the service of search warrants," Taber said. "We are all grateful that no officer was injured in this incident and applaud the professionalism of all involved."