Harnett County Deputies Cleared To Return To Work After Shooting
Posted August 5, 2003 7:40 a.m. EDT
DUNN, N.C. — The two Harnett County sheriff's deputies on administrative leave with pay since a fatal shooting last week returned to work Tuesday.
The deputies had been gone eight days.
Sheriff Larry Rollins said Capt. Jeff Huber and Lt. William Morris acted correctly to protect themselves when they shot and killed a man armed with a knife.
"I am absolutely certain they did what they were supposed to do," Rollins said. "We never want to take another person's life, but our officers have to protect themselves."
A 911 tape showed that deputies had surrounded the suspect, who fled after he wrecked and abandoned his car outside Lillington on July 28.
David Allen Buchanan, 35, led deputies on a three-county high-speed chase that ended in gunfire after they tried to serve Buchanan with a warrant for stealing an air conditioner from an Orange County church.
At a speed in excess of 100 mph, Buchanan led deputies down Highway 421 from Chatham County. He later crashed his car into a ditch outside a Lillington subdivision.
After a short foot chase, Buchanan was killed when Huber and Morris fired four shots at him.
Buchanan reportedly charged the deputies with a weapon from 12 feet away after they had him cornered in woods. Two shots struck him, but one killed him.
"After reviewing all the elements of what happened, there are no gray areas," Rollins said. "It was clear-cut self defense for these officers."
Buchanan was a convicted habitual felon with a long criminal history, which included convictions for breaking and entering, theft, DWI, carrying a concealed weapon, assault inflicting serious injury, drug charges and receiving stolen goods.
Although Huber and Morris are back at work, District Attorney Tom Lock must still decide if there will be criminal charges when the State Bureau of Investigation completes its investigation.