DA: Officers justified in shooting that killed man accused of shooting deputy

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Submitted: Fri, 11/01/2013 - 11:41pm
Updated: Fri, 03/14/2014 - 3:25pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County’s District Attorney says a shooting that killed the suspect accused of shooting a New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy last month was a reasonable use of deadly force. District Attorney Ben David said the officers were “absolutely justified in taking Brandon Smith’s life.”

Smith was shot and killed in northern New Hanover County Oct. 13 three days after investigators say he shot NHSO Det. Michael Spencer in Creekwood.

Investigators say Smith was shot and killed after three officers, two from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and one from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), confronted him when he ran into woods off Fulbright Drive after a car pursuit. The pursuit began after a deputy spotted Smith in a car on Princess Place Drive.

District Attorney Ben David said the officers fired 24 shots in no more than three seconds. Nine shots hit Smith, three shots grazed him and 12 shots missed, David said.

Click here to read the DA’s news release and summary of events (PDF file)

The investigation found that officers fired at Smith after finding him laying on his side in the woods and repeatedly telling him to show them his hands. According to the investigation, Smith never responded and appeared to try to pull something out of his pants. After officers again told him to show them his hands, they said Smith appeared to finally get what he was looking for and pointed it at officers. That’s when they fired at him.

Investigators say they did not find a gun on Smith, but did find a cell phone near his hand. They also found a dreadlock wig Smith had when he first entered the woods. Smith also had $330 on him. The man who was driving Smith later told investigators that just before the incident, Smith had shown him a gun in his waistband as they drove on Blue Clay Road. Law enforcement has not been able to find that weapon.

“Officers do not need to be shot upon before they have the legal justification to use lethal force,” David said.

Investigators say Smith shot Spencer Oct. 10 after the detective and a WPD officer he was with approached him and asked to speak with him in Creekwood. They say after Smith, who was carrying a bag, refused to talk with them, he ducked behind a trash can, pulled out a gun and shot at them hitting Spencer. He then ran off.

The WPD officer identified Smith as the suspect the next day. Investigators say they tried to contact Smith through known associates, but that multiple sources told them Smith had made it clear following the shooting of Det. Spencer that he had no intention of giving himself up or going to back prison.

Investigators say Smith was the suspect in multiple home invasions in the area involving guns, including one in which the victim said he put a gun in her face and pulled the trigger, but the gun malfunctioned. They say Smith’s wife also had a protective order against him for assault.

“When you live a certain lifestyle, and when you make certain choices, there will be consequences,” Sheriff Ed McMahon said.

As for the officers involved in the shooting, ATF Special Agent Chad Nesbitt is back on duty. The two deputies, Det. E.K. Edwards and Det. J.L. Jewell, will return to duty next week, Sheriff Ed McMahon said. McMahon said Det. Spencer is out of the hospital and doing well.


  • Whocares says:

    LOL. I’m sure the detective deserved it. They should of handled it in court not shooting him in public. WOW. You people really think NHSD is on your side…just wait till they hurt your loved ones.

  • 9734 says:

    Law enforcement was going to kill this guy whether he had run from them or if he had complied with their commands…most of you on here are smart enough to know that this guy was a “dead man walking” since he had allegedly shot a police officer.

  • don wrong says:

    I’m not claiming to be a smart man, but wow, the grammar and spelling in some of these comments is just ridiculous. You know if half of you spend your time in school being productive, the crime rate in this town might just drop.

  • Its me says:

    I guess next time the three officers should stand there and discuss who is going to shoot the bad guy. All 3 officers obviously felt a threat and fired at the same time without discussion. I’m sure they were all three giving verbal commands for Smith to show his hands, he reached in his pocket, double tap (2) rounds 4 times, multiplied by 3 officers= 24 rounds. They did just as they were trained.

  • SSDD says:

    At the end of the day those letters still apply in Wilmington… I guess I’d better not wear my phone on my side… I fear the atmosphere here is the same as it was in the 60’s. Even us law abiding citizens of color have to worry about both the thugs and police. I’m not taking sides on whether this or the other shooting was justified or not, Young minorities today have no clue that if you are a fugitive or in the commission of a crime, the shoot to kill order is inevitable in this town. Mr. Smith should have negotiated a public event by turning himself in and then his chances on whether he would be killed in jail or not by the police. I’m just facing the facts that right or wrong I now believe that blacks have a lot to fear in this town. I didn’t before. Thank God I guess I’m not in Charlotte where if I breakdown I might get shot to death by the police. I guess that shooting was justified too in the minds of some of these people posting replies here.

  • Ben Dover says:

    Law enforcement did the city a favor. This guy was a loser. You choose lifestyle, you pay the consequences. Good riddance.

  • Guest2020 says:

    The people that black people have to worry about the most in Wilmington are other black people. The police were justified in this shooting. I suppose it would suit you better if they had taken a chance that he wasn’t holding a gun and then got killed themselves. They had a split section to make a decision. The suspect was not complying with their lawful commands. All he had to do was to put his hands out like he was told and they wouldn’t have shot him. You are crazy if you think that police go around shooting innocent people for the hell of it or just because they are black. If that was the case, there would be a lot more shootings. In the two recent shootings involving the police vs criminals, the police were absolutely justified in their use of force.

  • chris says:

    Finally, someone understands truth.. right here. To sum it up: Three officers fired, three officers witnessed the threat. It was very unfortunate that this ended in another death but, Law enforcement has a higher standard to follow and as long as the right people are in these positions, you know that all precautions are made to preserve human life. On the other hand, dealing with a suspect of public terror, a person already showing signs of disregard for order and public safety, not caring about their own life, much less the lives of innocent people… well, you have to go by a much stricter group of guidelines when apprehending… I urge everyone that has an issue with any law enforcement dept. to contact the appropriate people in that dept. to share your opinions. Communication between the people and the officers that the people pay to protect them is essential to the growth and progress in the area

  • guest705 says:

    First, let me say I extend my sympathies to the friends and family of the man who was killed. If it had been my child, I would grieve regardless of the circumstances.

    However, I put my support with the LEO’s who had to go through this. How many of us would stand between a known criminal with a gun and citizens? I wouldn’t and I don’t expect our LEO’s to stand in front of a known criminal who was known to have shot a LEO less than a week before and who is not obeying lawful orders and wait for a bullet to whiz by before serving and protecting that neighborhood. This man was to be considered armed and dangerous because he’d proven himself to be so. It is heartless to expect anyone to stand in front of such a desperate person and wait to be shot at. All he had to do was stand with his hands up and not move. I believe he chose death by cop rather than go back to prison.

    I wonder where his true friends were when he needed to turn himself in? Or when he needed help to deal with whatever drove him to do such a terrible thing as shoot a cop.

    My heart goes out to the officers who had to do this. I’m sure, they too, would have rather he’d given himself up. People who want to protect others do not enjoy killing another human being, or they’d never pass their psych evaluation. Don’t project your feelings onto them. Many carry a burden when they take a life. The value of that life is not ours to judge.

  • desert eagle says:

    well you need help getting your justice you could
    get al and jessie to come down but al has his show now
    so its jessie , he will be in our state alot
    visiting his prison covict son jr in butner lol

  • Guest2020 says:

    The people on this page have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. Good men, family men do not go around shooting up police officers. If he cared so much about his family, he would not have committed the crime. And yes, we will all answer to a higher power one day, but while we are here on Earth, we all answer to the law. Your brother broke the law. He answered for it.

  • the sista says:

    Really bulls**t all you people that is on this web page keep ya comments to yourself yall have to answer to a higher power on judgement day to be up here saying all this negative things about my brother ima pray for you b******d tonight and i hope yall burn in hell my brother is and was a good man a family man and did not deserve to be killed and to his wife im glad he got you in his life no matter what the news talking bout we will get justice

  • Observer says:

    The responses from some of those that defend and support this dead violent criminal are proof of the educational level that that they hold. Ignorance is bliss!

  • Ed says:

    To the Sista,
    First allow me to say to you and your family I feel for your loss. If maybe your brother had not ran from the police he would still be alive and proving how good a person he was.

    You are correct in saying that there is a Higher Power, namely God almighty, Jesus Christ His son, and the Holy Spirit, and we (ALL) will stand before Him on judgment day. I hope that your brother had time to make things right with our Lord and Savior before he died. If not, he (IS) in that place where you would like to see all of us go.

  • Molly says:

    If it were your child, would you be saying thank you for saving your tax money then? Lol! You sound like a pathetic human being to celebrate death.I’m not saying he was an outstanding citizen but the article clearly says he was already down. Other methods of apprehension could have been applied.

  • Death says:

    Have you ever been to a funeral where the pastor says “today we Celebrate his/her life in death.” And that we should rejoice with the deceaded??? It called the celebration of life because one of man’s purposes in life on earth is to “die and be judged”. Therefor we should all rejoice. If not the you may have doubt about his/her judgement.

  • gramps1945 says:

    I believe the word is “estranged”.

  • guestwho says:

    Better to have no father than one who beats your mom and shoots at cops.

  • guesty says:

    “They say Smith’s wife also had a protective order against him for assault.”

    Remember when she got on tv spewing out what a good guy he was? He was good enough for her to have a domestic violence order of protection from him. Good guys are often given those orders. I wonder what color the sky is in her world…..

  • lauean says:

    Feel for her every body gos through problems and now three kids have no father there sky is dark right now with out justice there’s No Peace

  • guest3367 says:

    WPD wasn’t even there….why are you throwing them in the mix?

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    …and somewhat mentally incapacitated. I suppose you simply don’t understand the basic concept of what happens when you intentionally point a gun and shoot a police officer do you?

    Remember one thing here: The police are here to protect innocent and law abiding citizens to the best of their ability. They DO NOT have a duty to protect known criminals that commit violent crime!

    Is that itty bitty bell in your head beginning to ring yet?

  • Heem says:

    I guess he was pointing a gun at them while he was on the ground huh?? You dont have to protect criminals, but you do give them a fair trial though. Whether they shoot an officer or not……look at the Boston bomb suspect. You dont see them shooting 24 times either huh?

  • Making no sense says:

    Where your logic in all this. 3 officers unloaded 8 rounds each in 3 seconds. When guns are fired by officers it is intent to use as deadly force. Officers can’t rely on an injury to prevent the criminal(who is already known to fire on officers) from injurying or killing an officer. The taser is used to subdue a subject that causing problems or resisting arrest. No officer is trained to use a taser when the his/her life is on the line. A subject could still grab a weapon while beiong tased and use it. And really a K-9?? This was a chase! Maybe the K-9 unit hadn’t arrived yet. Only three officers where on scene. Should they have let him run away without pursuit so that he could shoot and rob again or possible kill if he hasn’t already. I wouldn’t think so. Unfortunatly this is the only way they will stop these violent criminals who don’t care to obey the law and put good citizens at risk of harm. These officers went above and beyond while doing a great good. Maybe you would think different if the officer that was shot was your father or son. If this guy put the gun to your face and pulled the trigger. If this was the guy you had to file a domestic dispute against or if this guy broke into your house and woke you up with a gun in yuor face and terrozed your wife and children. You live by the gun, Die by the gun, Isn’t that these guys motto?? You make more sense when you think before you speak.

  • WHAT? says:

    Actually if you watched the Boston bombing play out: one suspect was killed in a hail of gunfire and the younger brother was shot multiple times and shot at while hiding inside the boat(unarmed) by the FBI! Did you not check up on your details before you posted your comment. Its probably the same people who “Didnt see nothing” and won’t give any information to help solve these thugs killing thugs cases that are saying cops shouldn’t protect themselfs against known violent offenders like this. DOUBLE STANDARD??

  • guesty says:

    Both brothers in the Boston bombing were shot by police. Unfortunately one is still alive. Nice try.

  • browho20562 says:

    He was on the ground and that is where he stayed.

  • Molly says:

    Regardless of previous events, It is truly sad that they have justified shooting & killing a man laying on the ground even though no weapon was seen nor found. Smells fishy!

  • Heem says:

    Sound like someone is telling a lie, whether its the DA or WPD! Funny how it take 3 officers to take 24 shots at a man on the ground, explain this though. Why not shot the suspect 2 or 3 times?? I guess they had to make sure he was down with 9 huh?? Also why didn’t none of the officers have a taser gun out to tase him?? If not that, I know good and well there should have been a K-9 on the scene. Where is the K-9 at in this situation?? Any other traffic stop, or even home invasion there is a K-9 on the scene ready to go, but no, not here. Isn’t that what the K-9 are for? To run after a suspect and to detain him until he is in custody of the officers?? Once again why isn’t the K-9 out there?? I understand the man was a criminal, but it seems to me the DA and WPD wasn’t looking to bring him in for a trial anyway. Thank You for doing your job though WPD and DA, because whatever it is that you guys state must be true. Its funny though how the beginning of this case statement is first given, but then adjusted to make it clear out that it was justified that his life was taken. If you gone tell a story…..tell the TRUTH Mr. DA and WPD!!! Don’t hide or make up something that really didn’t happen to cover your A** for your actions. THE WPD is always right when it come to their side of the story, even when facts are proving or their story doesn’t tend to come up to what really happen!!!! Use your head and not your A**. Don’t be a prink or jerk just cause you have a badge, do your job RIGHT!! Can’t always trust those who are here to protect you.

  • TheTruth says:

    I think you are missing the point here. Do you have pockets. Pretty sure you do on pants, sweatshirts, shorts… Now if you were to put a weapon in that pocket and concealed it, I couldn’t see it. The other thing, and I will challenge you on this, you tell the Officer who was shot by this thug, that he should not be determined to be armed and dangerous. In the heat of the moment, I would guess that a black piece of a cell phone could look like a piece of a gun at a distance. Therefore, this shooting was justified. Thug uses deadly force on an officer and gets away, deadly force will be justified in the future with that suspect, especially when on the run like that. Smells fishy, maybe you should check yourself.

    Smells like roses!

    GJ LEO’s. Save my tax money for something important, like resurfacing Water Street.

  • concerned citizen says:

    I agree.. Although, I am not taking away from the seriousness of the crimes this guy committed. I am very concerned that the DA and his officers are willing to lie and create a story to justify shooting this guy. If they would lie about this, what else have or would they lie about? It was said that he was laying on the ground & was trying to “unhinge a dark object”, that doesn’t even sound truthful. because what was he unhinging?? when he was only found with a wig, cellphone, and money…. Yes he should’ve turned himself in, that would’ve prevented this and would’ve saved his life. However it is ILLEGAL to shoot a suspect just because of their crimes, and to LIE to try to make that LEGAL is downright corrupt. & they are not above the law nor can they say this hasn’t happened before. Several of the corrupt officers were lying in the prostitution ring. & I know several officers who LIE on legal documents. Two shootings in less than a month, none of the suspects had weapons. But saying things like he ran at me, or he was trying to unhinge a dark object shows me that they are corrupt and crooked…If they were justified because he was escaping, then just say that… But apparently that wouldn’t have been the case, that’s why they feel the need to have to create a story behind it..

  • guesty says:

    He might not have had a weapon on him at that time, but he had already proven he was willing to shoot at police. Then when he decided not to follow orders, dirt nap time.

    You say there were no weapons at the other thug clearing out? I guess the two guns that two of the criminals were holding weren’t really there?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    you are unaware of it and only those around you are affected.

    The same holds true when you’re stupid.

  • Grizzlyrn says:

    Good job LEO. One less thug on the street!

  • NH Citizen says:

    Loss of life is always tragic for the loved ones left behind also im greatful to our law enforcement community and all they do to keep the citizens of New Hanover County safe. However this particular incident is very “questionable”. Just like Rodney King from Los Angeles. His actions were wrong however the system found those officers went way overboard. I think it needs to be reviewed by a federal agency just as in the above incident in Los Angeles. Just saying and only my thoughts. God Bless America!!

  • guestwho says:

    Not at all like Rodney King. Rodney was not a wanted criminal and violent criminal.

  • common sense says:

    To so many who want to stand in any Law Enforcement Officers’ Shoes: Basic Law Enforcement Training classes are available at CFCC. Potentially anyone who qualifies can become a law enforcement officer and put their life on the line any day of the week. Stroll on down to CFCC or any college of your choice that offers this program and enroll.

    Just remember…you will make a very “minimal” pay, you will have to go into communities where people may “hate” you….you will get a vehicle to drive, but, at times may become a moving target….you will, at any given time, be required to be involved in a foot pursuit with an additional 30 lbs. of gear on….you will have to spend many hours away from your family to serve and protect people who may or may not appreciate you…Holidays will no longer exist….nights and weekends? they no longer exist either……you will have to question people who won’t be cooperative, and many other “perks” will be offered.

    Let me say…I am not a law enforcement officer….and I don’t want to be a law enforcement officer but I am glad to know that if I need one….they are on the job….

    There seems to be a lot of “HERE SAY” but very little “COMMON SENSE” going on….STOP LETTING THE STREETS RAISE THESE CHILDREN!!!


    If this doesn’t work for you….JOIN ANY BRANCH OF THE MILITARY….and deploy…..you will get about the same “perks” offered to you…..HAVE A NICE DAY!!!

  • Thanks says:

    I would like to thank all the police officers for trying to keep us safe. His great young man was an outstanding citizen for the hoods of this city and I am sorry he isn’t around to show his three kids the ropes of life he decided to follow. However, maybe someone will step up to show them that being a hood is the way to go and will get you killed life their father.

    For all of you that think there are lies and things hidden, well you have to believe something and thinking he was a good guy shows what you believe in.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    …total fail! Some peeps constantly walk around with foil hats on. This fellow is one of them.

  • Rusty says:

    Do your research before you comment you ding dong. Lol just another uneducated redneck trying to put his two cents in. Rodney King was on parole and faid to report into his parole officer thus making him a wanted violent criminal.. Keep on sippin dat moonshine guestwho dont know what u takin bout. If that federal investigation didn’t happen on the Rodney King incident all of them LAPD good ol boys would still be wearing a badge today.

Leave a Reply