Judge seals 911 calls in deputy-involved shooting
Posted November 25, 2008 10:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2008 7:55 p.m. EST
Smithfield, N.C. — A Johnston County judge has sealed 911 calls related to an officer-involved shooting that happened over the weekend, saying that releasing them could jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
The order means all recordings of 911 calls and radio traffic must be withheld until the investigation into the Saturday shooting death of Reginald Lee Witcher, 54, is complete.
Two deputies went to Witcher's home at 2349 Glendale Road in Kenly shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday in response to a request from paramedics for backup.
Johnston County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said that when the deputies arrived, Witcher shot at them from his front door, and a deputy returned fire, killing Witcher.
A deputy was injured from shrapnel or glass from the front door and was treated at the scene for non-life-threatening injuries.
The deputies involved, Deputy Sgt. J.K. Garner and Deputy A.J. Case, are both on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure for all officer-involved shootings.
Citing the ongoing investigation, authorities have declined to comment further about the case and the circumstances that might have led to the shooting.
According to incident report released Tuesday, deputies say they were responding to paramedics' request for assistance because of a "highly intoxicated crowd."
"While on the scene, we encountered an armed man with a shotgun. The suspect was shot by law enforcement. No further at this time," the officers' narrative states.
The sheriff's office said Tuesday the short summary is not the final report and maintains that Witcher shot at deputies.
"We do stand by our earlier statement and that report is just a brief narrative, not the full report," Amaon said.
Scott Blecke, EMS division chief in Johnston County, said paramedics at the scene said people at the home were being uncooperative and interfering with their ability to treat a female guest who had fallen.
Witcher's wife, Belinda Witcher, was also arrested for resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, according to court records.
A paramedic in the front of the ambulance, he said, reported seeing Wticher with a gun and quickly told the crew to leave the scene. Blecke said he was unsure if deputies were there at the time and that none of the paramedics witnessed the shooting.
Family members and friends said Tuesday they find it hard to believe that Witcher would have tried to shoot a law enforcement officer.
"My brother would never have fired on a policeman," Witcher's sister, Connie Cherise Mulgrew, said in a telephone interview from Virginia Beach, Va. "He would have never fired on a policeman."
Witcher was a home-heating and cooling salesman who loved animals and the outdoors, his sister said. He was never angry, even when drinking.
"It doesn't fit the personality, it doesn't fit the person," Witcher's friend, Paul Mills, said.