North Carolina statutes shed light on use of force laws

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Submitted: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 3:38am
Updated: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 6:27pm

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.


  • GuestToday says:

    I see . . . when YOU post, it’s erudite. But when someone ELSE posts, it’s BLATHERING. Frankly, we’re all a little tired of (and usually get quite a laugh out of) your posts. Your opinion, in ours, is not that significant.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    when I post, and it has been on a far less frequent basis, there is always a point made. You may not agree with it; that right of dissenting opinion is one which I and many others have defended through service to our Country.

    The post I responded to had no discernible point. I read it 3 times and could not determine what the author’s intended point was.

    Grammatically, ‘ours’ is not the proper term to use in your last sentence.

    Amazing how a person of 1 becomes we or ours when they are failing to make an intelligent conversation or rebuttal.

    It is more than a bit tiring when 1 has to resort to personal disparages when they are unable to make an intelligent rebuttal statement.

    And that is something I am not forced to turn to.

  • GKirk28405 says:

    has the same goal everyday: To go home same at the end of their shift. And if it takes shooting 3 ARMED SUSPECTS who have refused to stop and drop their weapons, than better, than so be it.

  • John Waite says:

    If this were an isolated incident, things would be a bit different. A few years back, WPD shot and killed a young boy holding a video game controller. A few weeks ago, Charlotte PD MURDERED an INNOCENT man who was the victim of a terrible car accident, seeking them out for help. Not local, but Treyvon Martin, anyone? Police are simply too quick to discharge their firearms these days. These men are paid, trained and coached extensively on how to handle these situations. When 2 men are murdered without discharging their own weapons, I find fault with that. What happened to a trial? Are the mandates of the Geneva convention, the rules of engagement for our troops, too stringent for our own local law enforcement. Can anyone here tell me that our own people do not deserve the same rights we extend to the rest of the world? Or are Americans simply too scared to take issue with the Police shooting first and asking questions later, making them paid executioners? I certainly am. How about we start greeting our officers as “Murder” from now on? I for one will not stand idly by while we become a police state.

  • Rusty says:

    Off topic I know; but lol I thought this was directed at me at first. Odd to to see two posts using the word “erudite” within a day but glad to see vocabulary is still relevant :)

  • Guest2020 says:

    Trayvon Martin was not shot by a police officer. He was shot and killed by the man whose head he was trying to bash in. In this case, the men were caught redhanded. They were leaving the scene of a crime with weapons. They refused to stand down, so the officers did the right thing in shooting them. Would you rather they approach the suspects slowly and pray that they the criminals would refrain from shooting? If the suspects had relinquished their weapons and obeyed the officers’ lawful commands, then there would have been no need for the officers to fire their weapons.

    You say you will not stand idly by while we become a police state. Would you stand by while we become an anarchist state? That is what will happen if there is no one to enforce the laws. The criminals have already run amok in Wilmington. It would be

    Some people just aren’t satisfied. When the thugs are shooting up the neighborhoods, there are complaints that the police aren’t doing enough. Nevermind that the neighborhoods, with the highest number of shootings, are filled Sgt. Shultzes. They see nothing. They hear nothing. They know nothing. And when the police are there to stop the crime, they are wrong for enforcing the law.

  • Guest1221 says:

    The NCAA? Jeebus!!!! That’s the funniest thing I’ve read online – EVER! Thanks for the laugh.

  • nah says:

    the NCAA tournament will ever be held here in town.

  • Guest1221 says:

    Anything, whether it’s with or without merit, can become a civil suit…if you’re willing to pay the court filing fee…just an FYI.

  • guesty says:

    I don’t think the NCAA cares that some guys were killed by the police while committing ARMED ROBBERY.

    Give it a break, the thugs lost and the good guys won this one.

  • Guest1221 says:

    While I can attest to how pesky apostrophes and punctuation can be, as well as how awfully confusing their, they’re & there and where, wear, we’re & were are; but, shouldn’t you, at least, get the name of your crusaders’ organization right? #NAACP

  • Guest910 says:

    This case is going to become a civil suit. Starnews and other news websites need to correct the shootout part because their was no shootout they killed the 2 boys who we’re robbing the Pizza Hut. And the third shot in the hand but now they have Jalani as a witness to say exactly what happened. NCAA shall be in town soon

  • Guest2020 says:

    Jalani is not a witness. He is a suspect. His testimony would not carry more weight than that of the police officers. He and the other two were caught in the act. They refused to comply with the lawful commands of the police officers. Had they cooperated, Jalani wouldn’t have an injured hand and the other two wouldn’t be dead.

  • Josh says:

    It is clear you do not know the law. Anybody can and will sue for anything they want to sue for. That is their right. Let them waste their money…there are plenty of sharks (I meant lawyers) circling the waters waiting for a little blood. A lot of them take the case KNOWING they won’t win…but that is their livelihood. (Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.)

    Still…the officers were clearly justified, and nothing is really going to change that at the end of the day. Including your know-nothing comments.

  • these posts make me laugh says:

    I always wondered when the NCAA would make it to Wilmington. I’ll be sure to watch the games. I’m rooting for the tarheels.

  • PublicAvenger says:

    They used guns to rob a store. They refused to surrender, when lawfully ordered. They gave the cops no other choice.

    Instead of considering a lawsuit, they might want to consider a good life lesson…….
    Don’t commit Armed Robbery.
    A) It is illegal.
    B) It creates a life threatening situation.

    Maybe the Pizza Hut employees, and Cops, should sue the surviving Armed Robber. He violated their civil rights.

  • John says:

    Takes one to know one.. and it sounds like you knew one…… These “boys”???? really…. get your head out of the sand… These were thugs. Hopefully the local law enforecment deals withe more and more like this so we can avoid paying for their food and shelter over the next 20 plus years.


  • SurfCityTom says:

    sadly in our society, one can be sued for about anything.

    There are lawyers who will file the most frivolous and weak suits in the hope it will be settled out of court.

    In this instance, a judge would dismiss it as being without grounds on a motion by the insurance company’s attorney.

    As to the NCAA, they have enough credibility issues right now. They would have been to town by now, if there was any basis for them to act or seek publicity. Not even the county chapter has raised its head.

    Nice try at trying to stir up racial issues; you failed.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    what was your point?

  • Guest1221 says:

    Ex-Law said your post was funny. That was his/her point. Then he/she continued on with general information based upon his/her knowledge of the law and use of force. He/she wasn’t directing only but the first sentence of his/her post to you.. At least, that’s how I read it.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I did borrow part of my post from Lethal Weapon 4.

  • Ex-law says:

    The line, “that’s funny, I don’t care who you are” is a standard line from Larry the Cable Guy’s routine. It meant I was in agreement with your (the) previous posts last paragraph. Things don’t always translate in e-mails and internet postings.

    When it comes to pulling a weapon from a holster and aiming it at a target with an intent to use it lawfully, I do have some experience along those lines.


  • SurfCityTom says:

    it is sometimes frustrating when folks who post nothing of consequence appear to take shots at you. It took 4 readings; but I get your point.

  • Ex-law says:

    The first sentence was supposed to indicate general agreement with the guy who said I was blabbering.

    The paragraphs that followed were an attempt to explain a subject I am very familiar with. The points made about what justify the proper use of force are based on established United States law cases…they transcend North Carolina. Most if not all federal, state, and local LE agencies use of force policies are based on established court case precedence.

    Sorry for blabbering.

  • T. Miller says:

    Like it or not even if it wasn’t justified it sends a clear message that if you commit a crime with a weapon on your person in Wilmington you can expect that there will be hell to pay via a summary execution. That’s a pretty good crime deterrent if you ask me. Kill them all let God sort them out mentality reigns supreme again. That said… I still find it hard to believe that 3 black males would charge at 6 police officers knowing they would be shot and killed especially after the Brandon Smith incident. Either way they were stupid to commit the crime in the first place. The saga continues…

  • Guest3130 says:

    . . . is that try as I might, I cannot picture 3 brothers running TOWARD the police, ever – it just doesn’t wash. I’m not making any judgment one way or the other, just sayin’.

  • Rusty says:

    Paniced and didn’t know which way to run? In the heat of the moment I can see that.

  • Guesttoo says:

    What on earth does the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have to do with this? Although I will allow that the NCAA does have some credibility issues…what with the Penn State scandal and all.

    For that matter, on a more serious note, what would the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have to do with this? I think the cops were shooting at people that were involved in a violent crime with the knowledge that weapons were involved. Don’t see any racism there…

  • craig says:

    These boys (men) did not listen to the law. They had guns. They should be dealt with force. I hate that anybody was killed. In today’s world what more could any one expect? I am glad the cops shot first and did not get shot. My hats off to the Wilmington PD.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    a and b cover the officers’ actions.

    let the warning go out to all who think they can use fire arms to relieve someone of their property or refuse to follow repeated clear commands from the police officers.

    the police will shoot.

    if you’re still breathing, you will be transported for medical evaluation.

    you will go to jail with an insurmountable bail.

    if you need a public defender, they will assign the dumbest one available.

    and, rest assured, your Mother will issue appropriate remarks confirming you are really a good boy who is just misunderstood.

  • Ex-law says:

    …right there (SurfCityTom) I don’t care who you are.

    Here is the deal…cops don’t go to work everyday hoping to kill anyone. Just the opposite. But, they are in a dangerous line of work, and the use of force laws regarding arresting/stopping folks in the commission of a felony using deadly force, or in self-defense of themselves or other third persons, are design to allow law enforcement officers the ability to return home at the end of their shifts to THEIR loving families.

    This was a clear cut case (based on the facts known thus far) of a justified use of force. This is based on MANY, MANY court cases. I taught this stuff for four years. All of the elements required by law have been clearly established.

    When a cop fires his weapon…he is stopping a threat where the use of deadly force is authorized. Whether he inadvertently kills someone in that process is immaterial, as that is not the intent of the officer. All training, and practical weapons courses, are designed to stop action..and the area targeted where that is most likely going to occur is center mass.

    Remember…this is at night…could have been in the rain, snow, or with plenty of other external extenuating circumstances…and there is just also the real possibility that lead is coming your way, too. Not many people are even remotely aware/familiar with all of the complexities that go into making a split second decision like this.

    Then…even if it is a justifiable shoot, the police officers must live with the psychological aftermath of taking a human life. They probably are traumatized themselves…I seriously doubt they are going around and handing out high fives.

  • guestwhat says:

    I do not trust the law enforcement here but these 3 men made bad choices and paid for them.

  • Mac says:

    In simply language.

    The Officers, observed an armed robbery in progress, they took up defensive positions.

    The suspects, exited the store.

    The Officers, instructed the armed suspects to surrender.

    The suspects, did not surrender, they charged at the Officers.

    If you refuse to listen to the Police while in the commission of
    an armed robbery, and decide to run at the officers while still armed
    you are going to be shot.

    Once the armed robbers decided to not comply with Police orders, they sealed the outcome.

    Moral of the story don’t commit armed robbery, and if caught don’t charge at the Police you are going to lose.

  • TiredCitizen says:

    The officers MORE than meet the qualification for both subsection A and B of 15A-401(d)(2). You DO NOT have to weight to have a weapon shoved in your face before utilizing deadly force.

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