SMITHFIELD, N.C. — An attorney for Reginald Lee Witcher's family says he believes a Johnston County sheriff's deputy fired his gun multiple times before striking the 54-year-old Kenly man at his home.
Richard Hunter said Monday that information he has indicates one of two deputies outside Witcher's home on the night of Nov. 22 fired his weapon eight or nine times.
Two or three of those bullets hit Witcher. Another bullet struck and killed Witcher's 11-year-old Dalmatian, Hunter said.
The Johnston County Sheriff's Office maintains Witcher fired first at the two deputies, who were called to the scene to provide backup to EMS workers responding to a 911 call at the residence.
Witcher's family members and friends say they do not believe Witcher would have shot at an officer, because he was not a violent man. They say they believe there has to be another explanation about what happened.
The State Bureau of Investigation is still conducting an investigation into the shooting, and both deputies, Deputy A. J. Case and Deputy Sgt. J. K. Garner, are on administrative leave with pay.
Hunter also said Monday that Witcher's wife and two neighbors, who were at the residence that night, as well as Witcher's brother-in-law, who had a chance to see the scene, met with SBI agents on Friday, gave statements and handed over physical evidence from the scene.
Hunter, however, would not say what that evidence was.
According to 911 calls and radio traffic released last week, deputies were responding to what was described on the recordings as "an extremely intoxicated" and "belligerent crowd."
In one recording, Case frantically calls a Johnston County dispatcher requesting backup after shots are fired, says the victim has been shot in the head, has no pulse and is not breathing.
Although, according to a search warrant, SBI agents seized a spent shotgun shell and a shotgun from the residence, Hunter has said the evidence does not prove Witcher fired at deputies.
"Don't read too much into items recovered from the scene," Hunter said last week in response to the warrant. “Mr. Witcher was an outdoorsman. He was a hunter and fisherman. He had guns in his house for hunting and protection.”