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A brief filed by the district attorney’s office outlines the morning of February 18th.

It all started around 1:00 a.m., Wilmington Police Corporal Will Richards and his trainee Officer Schwartz were patrolling the area around South College Road. Corporal Richards used to be in the Narcotics Division, but at the time of the incident, he supervised late Officer Rich Matthews’ platoon.

At 1:15 a.m., Richards and Schwartz saw an SUV on South College. Their lights and sirens went on immediately, as they attempted to stop the SUV for speeding.

Inside the car were three people: the driver, Anthony Pierce, Eric Smith, and Matthew Hendy – both passengers. All three are convicted felons. Pierce spent ten years in prison in Pennsylvania for armed robbery. Smith served two years in federal prison on drug charges, and faced a number of drug charges within the state of NC. Matthew Hendy was convicted of trafficking cocaine earlier in the month.

The SUV pulled over by Long Leaf Hills, or so Corporal Richards thought. Once he started getting out of his car, the SUV took off. This is where the chase began.

According to a legal brief filed by the DA’s office, not only was the SUV speeding and driving through stop signs, but bags of marijuana were being thrown from car windows on both the passenger and driver’s sides. That was when Corporal Richards called for backup. Officer Matthews responded.

Officer Matthews and Officer Allison Jahreis had been parked on Carolina Beach Road at the time of the call. They immediately threw on their lights and sirens and headed toward Long Leaf Hills; Matthews was leading the way. His top speed along College Road is reported at 102 mph. A speed, fellow officers say, is allowed on a stretch of road like Shipyard Boulevard, with little road traffic at that time of night.

Because convicted felons were leading the chase, and according to police, in possession of drugs, that type of pursuit is considered acceptable. According to the prosecution’s brief, the marijuana all three suspects were throwing out of the window had been stolen from other drug dealers earlier that night.

Given Corporal Richards’ background in narcotics, he knew this was a dangerous situation. In his experience, drug dealers are almost always armed. It turned out, these suspects were. Someone reported finding a .40 caliber handgun near the Senior Center on South College Road the following day. The gun was allegedly thrown from the vehicle at one point during the chase and it was fully loaded.

As Officer Matthews was traveling down Shipyard, toward South College, at about 100 mph, he saw a cardboard box in the road. The box had nothing to do with the suspects; they were never driving along Shipyard Blvd. at any point in the night. Matthews swerved to avoid the box, and his car turned left, straight into a set of trees, killing him.

Anthony Pierce is now being charged with the second degree murder. This based on the theory that if Pierce had only stopped for Coporal Richards when he tried to pull him over the first time, Richards would never have called for back-up, and Officer Matthews would not have been speeding down Shipyard to help.

Because Pierce was a convicted felon, and was no stranger to breaking the law, District Attorney Ben David argues Pierce was aware that by continuing to flee, he was putting everyone involved in a potentially life threatening situation.

“It’s important to send this message to anyone who would flee from officers. If a death results, in the course of that pursuit, they will be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” said David.

Chase Policy

According to state law and the Wilmington Police Department’s policy, officers can exceed the speed limit if they are pursuing a vehicle and/or person that is a danger to the community at that time, or in an emergency situation.

That being said, any officer who engages in a pursuit or chase must have their lights and sirens on to warn other drivers where they are.

Since Officer Matthews was located fairly close to where Corporal Richards was chasing the suspects, Matthews was called as immediate backup.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest85857878989898757859

    An amazing person..ahh yes. I guess you “accidentally” skimmed over the parts where they took off a high speed, and were throwing drugs out the car on their way. How about the fact they they were convicted felons, and so NONE of them, by law, should be driving around with a gun. Thankfully it was the RIGHT place, RIGHT time, because the police were there to stop them. I THANK THEM for getting these criminals off our streets, away from our children. My thoughts go out to the family of brave Officer Matthews,who tried to do his job, and protect the lives of his fellow police men.

  • LEO410

    About time someone posted the law!! again The LAW that is. Now can this man and his family,friends, and Brother and sisters in blue can heal and move on. I mean really. There you have it in back and white, and the number to look it up. Here is the site to look up the general statute NC General statute

    “I would Know”

  • Guest I <3 LEOs

    My concern here isn’t for the criminals as much as it is for the establishment of law and the equity in its application. I admit, I won’t lose a lot of sleep with these guys off the streets, but the circumstances here bother me. Officer Matthew’s death was an accident; a horrible, tragic and senseless accident. Sure, it was set into motion by these thugs actions, but they didn’t place the box in the road. The part of me that wants justice for Matthews says that these jerks have it coming. But there is another part of me that wonders if this precedent will be applied fairly next time around. I haven’t much faith in that, I’m afraid.

  • Guest197930

    Amen, that was very well put!! I must say that captures this whole situation very well. Thanks

  • Let me start by saying my prayers go out to the Matthews family.I have a huge problem with this whole thing.I went back to court in Jan.09 for probation violation but yet I went to my appts., paid my fines on time, didn’t get in any trouble,passed all drug screens and even did a year of intense with NO PROBLEMS.Because i had a probation officer that told me in the start she would have me in jail within a year and she had it out for me(always her word against mine). I was placed on a year of house arrest.I’m a mother of two and have been clean for sometime and why i get this for the life of me i can’t figure it out. These guys are out running the streets still dealing drugs and killing people and i’m the one on house arrest.My faith is gone

  • Guest5234

    Looks like it is back to the pen for all 3 for a long time. Whatever the charges are they are going away for breaking the law, many laws. See ya later potato heads.

  • celest12

    Sorry for the family of the officer who crashed his car and died.

    I still don’t think the men in the car fleeing from the police are responsible for the officer’s death though.

    The men breaking the law were going 65 miles an hour while not stopping for the officer pursuieng them.
    The officer killed was going over 100 miles per hour, the box he swerved to avoid was on a street the offenders hadn’t been on according to the news.
    It wasn’t necessary for him to be going over 100 miles per hour and his swerving to avoid the box had nothing to do with the chase of the offenders.
    So what now? Anyone breaking the law in anyway will be charged with murder if an officer wrecks his car and dies?
    Like I said, sorry the officer is dead but I think it is wrong to charge the people with murder.

  • Guestleo

    The punk was charged with 2nd Degree Murder, it should be Felony Murder, all three of them should have been charged with it. The DA blew it. These guys, all three of them, were involved in the commission of a felony when Officer Matthews died.


    § 14-17. Murder in the first and second degree defined; punishment.

    A murder which shall be perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of any arson, rape or a sex offense, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, or other felony committed or attempted with the use of a deadly weapon shall be deemed to be murder in the first degree, a Class A felony, and any person who commits such murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment in the State’s prison for life without parole as the court shall determine pursuant to G.S. 15A-2000, except that any such person who was under 17 years of age at the time of the murder shall be punished with imprisonment in the State’s prison for life without parole. Provided, however, any person under the age of 17 who commits murder in the first degree while serving a prison sentence imposed for a prior murder or while on escape from a prison sentence imposed for a prior murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment in the State’s prison for life without parole as the court shall determine pursuant to G.S. 15A-2000. All other kinds of murder, including that which shall be proximately caused by the unlawful distribution of opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or cocaine or other substance described in G.S. 90-90(1)d., when the ingestion of such substance causes the death of the user, shall be deemed murder in the second degree, and any person who commits such murder shall be punished as a Class B2 felon. (1893, cc. 85, 281; Rev., s. 3631; C.S., s. 4200; 1949, c. 299, s. 1; 1973, c. 1201, s. 1; 1977, c. 406, s. 1; 1979, c. 682, s. 6; 1979, c. 760, s. 5; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1251, ss. 1, 2; 1981, c. 662, s. 1; 1987, c. 693; 1989, c. 694; 1993, c. 539, s. 112; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 21, s. 1; c. 22, s. 4; c. 24, s. 14(c); 1997-456, s. 27.)

  • GuestHM

    The box in the road… Yes he tried to avoid it but the car being chased should have pulled over from the get go. They caused the crime and the accident to happen. God Bless Matthews family coworkers and friends. What a sad event.

  • officerwife

    Hopefully anyone breaking the law in anyway that results in an officers death will be charged with murder and punished to the FULL extent of the law. If that CRIMINAL had not been breaking the law, the officer never would have died. Why is that so hard for people to understand? People who BREAK THE LAW should be held accountable for their actions, not just for the law that they INTENDED to break, but for ALL crimes commited. Maybe then some of the crime in this town would cease. I am so sick of people sticking up for criminals and having sympathy for them. Criminals knowingly do illegal things of their own free will, why stand up for them? No one makes them do these things, and having the slightest bit of sympathy for them when they get caught and punished is absolutely ridiculous.
    –proud to be an officer’s wife–

  • a friend

    thats stupid of you to call them that! grow up loser! and i know one of them and they are smater than you will ever be or hope to be! just wrong place at the worng time! if you don’t know the truth as i do then keep your mouth shut!

  • Guest1212`12

    but the question is when you know one of them and what amazing father and friend they are you hate that this has happened to them! wrong place at the worng time people make mistakes thats how you learn form them! don’t be so quik to judge the book by his cover!

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