Local News

Taxpayers to Pay for Funeral of Man Killed by Deputy’s Car

Posted January 7, 2008 11:06 p.m. EST
Updated January 8, 2008 12:25 a.m. EST

— Taxpayers will cover funeral costs for a pedestrian stuck and killed by a Franklin County sheriff deputy's vehicle.

On New Year's Eve, Marcus Coppedge was crossing N.C. Highway 39 in Ingleside when he was struck by a car driven by Deputy Crystal Mitchell. Coppedge's mother witnessed the accident and held the 23-year-old as he died on the roadway.

The county Board of Commissioners met behind closed doors Monday night to discuss a potential lawsuit against Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green in the wake of the accident.

At the meeting, Green asked that the county pay more than $7,800 to cover funeral expenses for Coppedge. The commissioners voted unanimously to pay for the funeral with money from the general fund.

"The family is not able to pay the funeral expenses. I'm the sheriff of the county and was elected by people, and based on the circumstances, this is the right thing to do," Green said.

Mitchell was responding to a non-emergency call when her vehicle hit Coppedge. Green said Mitchell, a three-year veteran of the force, told him she was distracted by a group of young men gathered in front on the 4 Stars Grocery.

The sheriff said Monday night that deciding to cover the funeral cost did not mean the county had accepted liability in Coppedge's death.

"We don't concede any liability. We are waiting for the investigation to be complete. This is a good will gesture on the county's part," he said.

The sheriff also said based on the Highway Patrol's preliminary investigation, Mitchell may have been traveling 10 to 15 mph over the posted speed limit. Green said he was waiting for the final report from the Highway Patrol to determine whether there was any fault.

Mitchell remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation, which should be complete in about a month.

WRAL contacted Coppedge's family Monday evening, but they declined comment.