Local News

Autopsy: Kenly man shot multiple times

Posted December 16, 2008 12:39 p.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2008 7:19 p.m. EST

— A Kenly man, shot last month by a Johnston County sheriff's deputy, was hit three times and died from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

Reginald Lee Witcher, 54, was shot once in the left thigh and once in the back in addition to the chest wound, but the report does not indicate the order of the shots. The bullet that hit his chest also pierced his heart and his coronary artery.

On Nov. 22, two deputies went to Witcher's home at 2349 Glendale Road in response to a paramedic's request for backup.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office said that when the deputies arrived, Witcher shot at them from his front door and that a deputy returned fire, striking and killing him.

Witcher's family and friends have said they believe the shooting was unjustified and that they do not believe Witcher would have shot at an officer.

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure, and both deputies involved, Deputy A. J. Case and Deputy Sgt. J. K. Garner, are on paid administrative leave.

According to 911 recordings and search warrants, Witcher and his wife were entertaining guests at their home when someone called 911 reporting that a female guest had fallen.

When emergency workers responded to the call, however, they were told no one had called 911. A paramedic requested the deputies' assistance after reporting seeing a man with a gun.

The deputies responded to what was described on the recordings as "an extremely intoxicated" and "belligerent crowd."

According to the autopsy report, Witcher's blood alcohol concentration was 0.3 grams per milliliter of blood, which is almost four times the state's limit to drive of 0.08 grams per milliliter.

The bullet that hit in the upper chest fractured a rib, perforated his lung and caused extensive damage to the main pulmonary artery.

The Witcher family's attorney, Richard Hunter, declined to comment Tuesday, citing the family's own investigation into what happened that night.

Investigators recovered a spent shotgun shell and a shotgun from Witcher's home, but Hunter has said that does not prove Witcher fired at the deputies.