Local News

Victim's Girlfriend: Officer 'Overreacted' In Teen's Shooting Death

Posted October 17, 2005 9:46 a.m. EDT

— A police officer was protecting himself and others in a house where he shot and killed a Rocky Mount teenager this past weekend, according to the Rocky Mount Police Department. The victim's girlfriend, however, said the responding officer overreacted.

On Saturday, police received two calls reporting a fight and assault from a house at 424 E. Battleboro Ave., according to police reports. When four police officers arrived at the scene, witnesses told them that 19-year-old Clarence Eley was inside the house holding a knife to his girlfriend, Alisha Wilkins.

Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley said two officers then went inside and saw Eley holding a knife.

"(The) person was ordered to drop the knife," Manley said. "Obviously, that did not take place; and therefore, we have what we have at this point: an officer-involved shooting."

Manley said senior Officer Leon Peele fired twice, hitting Eley at least once in the chest.

Wilkins, however, claimed Peele shot Eley for no reason.

"He didn't raise the weapon at them, nor was I in jeopardy," she said. "The knife was nowhere near me."

Wilkins said the officers went to the middle of the living room floor, where they told Eley to drop his weapon. Before he could do it, she said, they fired shots.

"Bang-bang, Clarence was on the floor," Wilkins said. "They didn't give him a chance to drop the weapon."

But Manley said that everything he had seen, so far, suggested Peele followed proper procedure and that Peele believed that either he or Wilkins was in immediate danger.

"All I can say to (the victim's family and girlfriend), again, we will promise a fair investigation and the (State Bureau of Investigation) is doing that," Manley said.

Peele and the other three officers were assigned to administrative duty while the SBI investigates. The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office was also assisting with the investigation, which could take several weeks.