WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Wilmington Police Department has yet to publicly identify the officers involved in recent shootings and another use of force investigation, but a public information request by WWAY NewsChannel 3 found that ten officers are currently on paid administrative leave. That’s the normal course of action for officers involved in a shooting or similar incident while the department and SBI investigate.
A city spokeswoman initially said the number was eight, but a check of the records today showed two more.
According to the information provided by the city, an officer was placed on leave Oct. 11. That day an officer fired one shot at a man holding what turned out to be a pellet gun behind the Kmart on S. College Rd after he refused to follow the officer’s instructions. The shot missed Warren Taylor Small, who was charged with multiple crimes. The city had initially not included this officer in its original list.
WPD placed three officers, two corporals and one sergeant on leave Oct. 26. That was one day after officers shot three suspects after an alleged armed robbery at the Pizza Hut on S. 17th St. Two of the men shot died. The third is in jail.
The department put another officer on leave Nov. 1. That happened hours after Johnnie Williams drove away from a checkpoint and led officers from several agencies on a chase. In the end, they used a WPD K-9 to get Williams out of his car. The SBI is investigating whether officers used excessive force during the incident after Williams suffered several injuries from the dog. The officer placed on leave that day is a K-9 handler.
Two more officers went on leave Thursday. The night before, police shot at three breaking-and-entering suspects, who reportedly refused officers’ commands and drove a car at them. The city had initially told us one officer was suspended that day.
A city spokeswoman said by law she could not comment on why the officers were placed on leave.
WWAY NewsChannel 3 has decided not to publish the names of the officers on paid administrative leave after the FBI said gang members may be targeting local law enforcement officers because of the shooting that killed Brandon Smith, who was wanted for shooting a Sheriff’s Office detective last month in Creekwood. The two New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputies and ATF special agent involved in Smith’s death have been cleared of any wrongdoing.