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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The District Attorney has cleared a New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy of any crimes after he shot a suspect last month.

District Attorney Ben David said he sent a letter to the SBI yesterday after getting the SBI’s report on the incident involving Dep. Joshua Cranford. In the letter, David said Cranford “is lucky to be alive.”

Cranford returned to duty last week after a Sheriff’s Office internal review also found no wrongdoing. He had been on administrative leave after shooting Darius Hester on Rockhill Road in Castle Hayne Aug. 16.

David’s letter says Cranford and a witness said the deputy only fired after Hester first tried to use his own weapon. David ruled Cranford “used an appropriate amount of force in response to the set of circumstances that Mr. Hester set in motion.”

Hester is charged with attempted murder.

Comment on this Story

  • Steve Lee

    If the DA would list more details of what actually transpired, it would engender greater trust from the community. What makes for a “suspicious” character walking down the road? Why would a deputy randomly stop anyone just walking down the road unless the person showed signs of drunkenness, disorientation, or distress? This whole event does nothing but raise questions, and neither the Sheriff’s Department, the SBI, or the DA have done anything to satisfy the legitimate questions of the public.

  • PublicAvenger

    Here are a few “Details”………..
    He had quite a criminal history
    He tried to kill the deputy
    He had a 9mm pistol, on him.

    Outstanding job Deputy Cranford. Your clear thinking, in this deadly situation, kept you from being another statistic.

    We are lucky to have a Sheriff, and DA, who stand behind good deputies, like Cranford. In tough situations, like this.

  • guesty

    Why would a deputy randomly stop anyone just walking down the road unless the person showed signs of drunkenness, disorientation, or distress?

    Because an officer can get out and talk with anybody at any time. It is a consensual talk. If you don’t want to talk and haven’t done anything wrong and the officer has no suspicion, you may walk away. If the officer prevents you from leaving, you have become seized and the officer has to tell you that you are being detained while he investigates. Now the consensual stop has changed to an investigatory one.

  • Bergermeister

    A person is walking from a neighborhood and an officer stops to have a conversation. Based on mannerism of person being talked to by law enforcement, it’s deemed something else could be going on. That us how many breaking and entering crimes are solved. Great job deputy! My family is glad your out there and willing to put yourself in dangerous situations on our behalf. Sheriff McMahon, thank you for aggressively working our neighborhoods. This is how we deter criminals. God Bless our Law Enforcement family.

  • Tax Payer

    The Deputy could have seen him carrying some sort of gaming device like a game boy, nintendo 64 or heaven forbid a ps3.

  • guesty

    The punk you are alluding to and the stolen ps3 he committed armed robbery to obtain.

  • Guest123654


  • GuestNCNative

    Not so fast on handing out amens and kudos to the Sheriff and DA.

    First, let me state that I absolutely believe they reached the correct conclusion in this matter. Deputy Cranford is one of the youngest and brightest at NHSO, and I’m proud to work close to him.

    Second, the Sheriff only issued a statement of conclusion AFTER the SBI issued theirs. Bandwagon-jumping is not cause for amen.

    Third, DA’s have shown time and time again that the lives of our deputies and police officers don’t mean a whole lot to them. The most recent example I can think of is the Leland police officer who was assaulted a few weeks ago. The suspect was charged with DWI and assault on a law enforcement officer. The officer was physically assaulted during this incident. He had to be transported to the hospital, received quite a few stitches, and was placed on desk duty for a while due to the severity of his injuries. ****HERE’S THE PART I FIND SICKENING:**** The DA decided to drop the assault on LEO charge. It just went away, no questions asked. No, I’m NOT saying that DWI is less serious than assaulting a cop. But I am suggesting that discounting an assault on a law enforcement officer is beyond absurd and entirely revolting. After all, if someone is so blitzed out of their stupid minds as to attack a cop, what does that say about what they’re willing to do to the rest of us? Our officers and deputies put their lives on the line with EVERY call they respond to. We expect them to do that without question or hesitation, yet when that backfires, we tell them “Oh well. Get over it.”

    It’s just my opinion, but our deputies and officers deserve much better than what the Sheriff and DA are giving them.

  • Guest77

    Sheriff McMahon absolutely did the right thing by waiting for the SBI to finalize their investigation before commenting about the incident. Both Sheriff McMahon and D.A. David had to wait for the truth to be found and presented by the SBI, which handles all officer involved shootings. No statements by either man was a sign of experience and prudence. Not so fast judgement on the part of Sheriff McMahon and Mr. David proves they wanted to know the whole truth prior to making a statement. They allowed the SBI to investigate the shooting without tainting it with statements made without complete knowledge of SBI findings. I appreciate that from my elected officials. Now we as the public know the action of the deputy was the correct one and nobody can make claim it was covered up by the district attorney or sheriff. That’s great leadership.

  • PublicAvenger

    I fully agree.
    We have a NH County Sheriff, and a Wilmington Police Chief, who hold their officers to high standards. And they stand behind them, in a professional matter, in tough situations like this.

    On behalf of the rank and file, front line officers. Thanks Sheriff McMahon, and DA David, for making sure a good deputy did right, giving him support, and standing behind him.

  • BoBo


  • guesty

    He won’t ever commit any more crimes. Too bad for the dog.

  • Reagan’s my hero

    As a graduate of the New Hanover county Sheriff’s citizens academy, I have a new found respect for our Deputies. These decisions, potentially life or death, are made quickly. After meeting many of the men and women in the NHSO I am comforted in knowing they are out there protecting us.
    Sheriff McMahon is doing a great job and the many deputies I met were top notch men and women. I am happy no one died and the deputy will return to his squad and continue to protect us.
    Sheriff McMahon, you earned this Republicans vote.


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