Raleigh officer cleared after shooting suspected kidnapper who later killed himself
Posted December 10, 2019 11:01 a.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2019 6:33 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman on Tuesday closed the investigation into a Raleigh police officer who shot a fleeing kidnapping suspect in September. The suspect killed himself a short time later while surrounded by police in some woods near Zebulon.
The Durham County Sheriff's Office notified Raleigh police in the early hours of Sept. 24 that a Honda Accord might have been involved in a kidnapping and was last seen on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh. When officers tried to stop the car, the driver sped off onto Interstate 440 and then onto Interstate 87/U.S. Highway 64.
The chase reached speeds of 100 mph before the State Highway Patrol was able to disable the car by putting spikes on the highway near Zebulon. The driver, later identified as Hugo Yaret Cortez Ramirez, then jumped out and ran into some nearby woods.
"At this point, Mr. Ramirez exited the vehicle and faced Sgt. [R.L.] Warner as Sgt. Warner was stopping his vehicle. Mr. Ramirez pulled a silver revolver from his waistband and pointed the gun at Sgt. Warner but did not fire," Freeman wrote in a summation of the incident. "Mr. Ramirez turned and ran toward the wood line with Sgt. Warner in pursuit. Prior to entering the wood line, Mr. Ramirez again pointed the gun at Sgt. Warner. At this point, Sgt. Warner feared for his safety and the safety of fellow officers. Sgt. Warner discharged his duty firearm at Mr. Ramirez, who continued into the woods, where a single gunshot was then heard."
Videos from police dashboard cameras and officers' body-worn cameras showed Ramirez hopping out of his car and exchanging gunfire with police as he ran into the woods.
None of the videos shows Warner's perspective during the confrontation. A preliminary report the Raleigh Police Department provided to city officials said that Warner tried to activate his body-cam but realized the battery had died.
An autopsy determined that Ramirez died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Freeman's report said investigators found a gun in Ramirez's hand next to his head.
Ramirez also had a wound in his leg, which authorities attributed to Warner.
Ramirez's former girlfriend told investigators that he abducted her at gunpoint from her work on Sept. 23 and drove her around for several hours. He said "he was either going to kill himself or get into an altercation with police and have them kill him," according to Freeman's report.