Friday December 4, 2009, with little fanfare the State of North Carolina absolved itself of any wrong doing in the shooting of Courtland Smith on August 23.
With that Cedar Post will be eating crow for the next several weeks.
According to the Randolph County District Attorney's Office press release, the Archdale police officer who shot and killed junior Courtland Smith was justified in his action because he believed his and another officer's life to be endangered.
The statement says officer Jeremy Paul Flinchum shot Smith four times after repeatedly asking him to back away from the officers and show his hands. When Smith repeatedly ignored these requests, approached the officers and quickly drew a black item from behind his back, Flinchum shot.
Smith was not armed, despite earlier comments made to a 911 dispatcher that he had a gun. Police found a black Blackberry phone next to the location where he was shot, the release states.
"Given the totality of circumstances, Officer Flinchum's belief that he faced an imminent use of deadly force from Courtland Smith when he fired his service pistol was entirely reasonable," Yates said in the release.
The report also notes a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey was in Smith's gray Toyota 4Runner, and that he had sent an e-mail to family earlier that night indicating suicidal intent.
Just after 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 23, Flichum and officer Chris Jones, in separate patrol cars, pulled over Smith's vehicle on I-85 south, after being notified by Archdale Police Department Communications that Smith was possibly suicidal, intoxicated and armed with a 9 mm handgun.
Smith exited his car about 15 seconds after stopping on the shoulder of the highway. Both officers drew their pistols and gave Smith repeated directions to stay in the car and show his hands as Smith walked toward the officers with one or both of his hands behind his back.
"At one point the officers warned Mr. Smith that because of his actions he was about to get shot," Yates said in the release.
Both officers retreated behind Jones' car while giving the commands. Smith walked backward to his car and leaned into the driver's side.
As Smith once again advanced on the officers with his hands concealed, Smith and Flinchum retreated further back to Flinchum's car, attempting to tell Smith "to not do anything stupid, and that they just wanted to talk to him and help him," the release states.
When Smith quickly drew his right hand from behind his back, holding a black object and standing 10 feet away from the officers, Flinchum fired five shots.
Two gunshot wounds to Smith's abdomen were each fatal, and caused him to collapse to the ground immediately. A third gunshot wound in Smith's upper back appeared to be a ricochet or deflection, according to the N.C. Medical Examiner's Office. Smith also had a gunshot wound to the left thigh. An autopsy report found Smith's blood alcohol level as .22.
Smith was a biology major and president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was last reported seen in Chapel Hill at about 12:30 a.m. at a Delta Kappa Epsilon house party.
While those who know Courtland will still debate the truthfulness of the reports, the public is inclined to believe the officers statements as truthful. The release of the dash cam tape is not expected anytime soon due to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate of Courtland Smith.
Regardless, given the officers statements Cedar has to concede that the officer Flinchum's actions were not only justified but without question his only option.
Cedar Posts Out!