WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New information released by Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous has many debating whether the shooting that killed two of three alleged robbers at a Wilmington Pizza Hut was excessive force or justifiable homicide..
Chief Ralph Evangelous says details in this case have been slow to emerge due to ongoing internal investigations and an investigation by the SBI.
Investigators say it began as an armed robbery, but quickly became much more.
"As officers arrived and saw an armed robbery in progress they saw guns being used during this robbery,” said Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous.
A Wilmington police officer who was keeping an eye on the area called it in and waited for the suspects, Jalani Smith, Tevin Robinson, and Ronald Roland to leave the Pizza Hut. Soon after, it turned deadly.
"Officers challenged suspects and gave them several commands to surrender,” said Evangelous. “The suspects refused to comply with the officers and ran towards the officers. The suspects were then fired upon by our officers. We have now learned that the suspects didn't fire on the officers. Two weapons were seized by the suspects at the incident."
On our website many viewers have praised the six Wilmington Police officers involved, while others questioned whether the shooting that killed Robinson and Roland was justified.
We turned to North Carolina State law for answers. According to N.C. GEN.STAT.§ 15A-401(d)(2)(1978) A law-enforcement officer is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person only when it is or appears to be reasonably necessary thereby:
a. To defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force;
b. To effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of a person who he reasonably believes is attempting to escape by means of a deadly weapon, or who by his conduct or any other means indicates that he presents an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to others unless apprehended without delay; or
c. To prevent the escape of a person from custody imposed upon him as a result of conviction for a felony.
Nothing in this subdivision constitutes justification for willful, malicious or criminally negligent conduct by any person which injures or endangers any person or property, nor shall it be construed to excuse or justify the use of unreasonable or excessive force.