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DA: Officers justified in Pizza Hut shooting that killed two

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Last month, Wilmington Police shot three armed robbery suspects as the men left the Pizza Hut on S. 17th St. Two of the suspects died. Now the district attorney says the officers were fully justified in their use of deadly force.

Police shot and killed Ronald Roland, 18, and Tevin Robinson, 20, and injured Jalani Smith, 20, after investigators say the trio robbed the Pizza Hut Oct. 25. Prosecutors say the men stole money, cell phones and keys. As they left, police were waiting.

The DA's Shooting Review Team determined the six WPD officers who opened fire were justified because the men did not follow their commands. But with Smith still facing charges from the robbery, DA Ben David said he cannot release many more details about exactly what happened.

"We are not permitted to talk about the events immediately surrounding this incident even if we're talking about two people who are deceased and aren't going to be tried, because it could implicate Mr. Smith's fair trial rights as well," David said.

Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said last month the suspects ran toward the officers prompting the shooting. But last week North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber said the organization is concerned officers are becoming "judge, jury and executioner."

"The NAACP is concerned with the pattern of street justice rather than courthouse justice that emerges from the study of these four cases," Barber said Nov. 12 about a series of recent officer-involved shootings.

Chief Evangelous disagrees.

"Everyone has a right to their opinion. I respectfully disagree with that opinion," Evangelous said. "I think our officers acted appropriately."

David says people have nothing to fear from law enforcement as long as they follow the law.

"I urge the entire community to help cooperate while these officers are doing their job, because that's how we're truly safe," David said.

We tried reaching out to Barber for his thoughts on the DA's decision about this case, but he said he was not in town and never responded to our requests for a phone interview.

We also tried speaking with New Hanover County NAACP President Deborah Maxwell, but we never heard back.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Innocent bystander

Shades of NYC! Just because I'm black doesn't automatically make me a criminal. I'm not disputing whether the shooting was justified or not. I'm just suffering from the fallout of all the activity the past few weeks. The reporting a couple of weeks ago of the 15 year old reported "black males in a black jeep" in bold letters. Buried in the story was that it was a Jeep Cherokee and not any other model. I ride with a Law enforcement group representing city, state and federal officials and the first thing they all said was don't go to Wilmington until the news station reports better details on the persons of interest. The last thing they wanted to happen was that an officer would assume incorrectly that I was the suspect and also that if the shooting was gang related some idiot would retaliate against me because i was driving a "black jeep" and not a black jeep cherokee. With the rash of these stupid kids getting shot I think I have a valid fear of getting shot or forcibly detained just because of some lame reporting by the media outlets. I am hopeful that these shootings are truly justifiable. I just hope that I'm not the first one to suffer from one that was not justifiable. Those of you not a minority would not understand this fear especially if you didn't grow up one in south during the 60's as I did. I'm not playing the race card I am just stating a legitimate fear amongst the law abiding minorities who suffered through this period. I agree these kids were stupid a put themselves in the situation to be killed whether it was justified or not. Kids need to learn that this isn't video game or movie; this is real life where the police will probably not take the time to talk you down. They will make a decision based on their experience, fear or attitude of the suspects as any normal human would. Additionally the gang leaders putting a hit out on LE was the dumbest thing they could have done to the point that it puts all law abiding minorities in the cross hairs of not only the fearful public and law enforcement but also turning this town into a pseudo-police state. I don't blame the police entirely. I blame the thugs and the poor details in the news reporting in this town too. I'm tired of being followed or eyeballed for no reason but I do realize that the thugs also have a lot to do with putting the police and me into this state of unease of co-existing around one another.

BYstander

Then police your own, and the police won't have to do it for you.

Yea I guess your so worried

Yea I guess your so worried because innocent people are shot by LE in Wilmington all the time, not just when robbing pizza hut or after shooting an officer and then trying to flee, or when a car full of armed robbers tries to run over officers. Name all the instances when wilmington LE shot an innocent citizen. (only one i can think of was the kid shot while holding playstation controller, even though he wasnt quite that innocent. But because it was white officer shooting white kid we heard no voice or uproar from the black communitities or NAACP) I'd be more worried about riding down Dawson or Princess Pl and the violence caused by these criminals!

You seem to be implying that

You seem to be implying that the police rely on the news media to keep them up to date on the identities of those committing crimes. I guess you think the police are stupid enough to do that. I guess you decided not to take into account that it is the police that provides the news media with descriptions of vehicles and identities of the suspects.

Read Between The Lines

"Minority" Are you implying that it's not safe for a black man to come to Wilmington, because of the Police ? Because of this ? You've got to be kidding.

I guess it's not, if he goes into a restaurant, with a gun in his hand, threatening people's lives. Then again, it would be the same situation, if it was a white Armed Robbing, dangerous, thug, criminal.

It's time to do like the Police, The DA, and the State Bureau of Investigation, did. Look beyond skin color (if you can) and look squarely at the facts of the situation.

Sorry if you feel you are being "eyeballed". But that doesn't change the facts around this case, one bit. I've been in Creekwood hundreds of times, and I too have been more then "eyeballed". Get over it.

Police justified in Pizza Hut shooting

Is it because they were black that the police were justified?
What if they had been white kids? With what were the robbers
armed and how were the police threatened?
Because the robbers didn't follow orders their lives were taken?
When was the last time you ever heard of the police getting into hot water over excessive use of force? The Chief has a difference of opinion, really? Aren't there standard operating procedures that must be followed? If you don't think we live in a police state, think again. I hope the next time you don't follow the speed limit you don't lose your license.

Why does it always have to be white or black thing

A white Officer was justified in shooting a white kid a few years ago. He stole a playstation and was then shot inside his house through his front door while holding the controller. Officers then shot his dog. So to answer your question: NO IT WAS NOT BECAUSE THEY WERE BLACK IT WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE DOING SOMETHING WRONG THAT ENDANGERED THE LIFES OF OTHERS. THESE KIDS HAD GUNS AND WERE KNOWN TO BE VIOLENT. THEREFOR THEY DID NOT HAVE TO SHOOT AT OFFICERS TO BE SHOT. THESE KIDS COULD HAVE RAN AWAY BUT WOULD STILL BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS AND YOUR MOTHER, FATHER, BROTHER, CHILDREN, ETC. COULD HAVE BEEN THEIR NEXT VICTIM. Its the ignorant that make this about race.

Bella-

Try to remember what actually happened:
11:45 at night
People had been robbed
Police accosted the robbers after they left
The robbers supposedly CHARGED at the police

The police could not have known the guns weren't loaded.
the men refused to stop

Sorry but all indications are that the police acted properly.

If YOU think that's a "police state" please consider expatriating yourself to Egypt....

Vog

What would you have had the

What would you have had the police officers to do? Get on their knees and say "pretty please, will you do what I ask?"

The following was taken from WWAYTV3's 10/27 report of this story:

"Investigators say Jalani Smith, 20, Ronald Roland, 18, and Tevin Robinson, 20, all from Brunswick County, forced the employee back into the restaurant at gunpoint and robbed the people inside."

Please note the part where they forced the people back into the restaurant at gunpoint. That answers your question about the criminals being armed.

The justification of the shooting has nothing to do with the color of the skin. It has everything to do with the actions of the criminals.

Shall we just eliminate the police departments? Shall we eliminate the court system? Shall we free all prisoners and tear down the prisons? After all, if don't live in a police state, then there is no need to enforce any laws. Heck, while we're at it, why don't we just eliminate all governing bodies who make the laws?

Huh?

If you are inferring that the cause of the shooting was the color of their skin...rather than the cause being their actions...well, that's pretty pathetic.

The DA was pretty clear. Shots were fired by the cops because a(nother?) violent crime was in progress and because they presented a threat by failing to follow orders. I'm willing to bet that if a white guy with a gun went running towards a cop and ignored the command to stop, he(she) would be equally shot.

I am encouraged to that you acknowledge that they were robbers.

thugs

There's a big difference in speeding and thugging....the epidemic continues........

Bella, i didn't hear you say

Bella, i didn't hear you say anything about the THUGS following the law. ask the employees that probably have nightmares from this and the patrons they just robbed and threatened with guns. Also every officer involved shooting where someone is shot/killed/wounded has to attend counseling and be cleared to go back out on the streets. put a band aid on your bleeding heart and just remember who you will depend on if it was you in the pizza hut!!

Troll fail

Thanks troll, race card played and failed. Back under your rock.

re: Police justified...

"I hope the next time you don't follow the speed limit you don't lose your license."

There's a world of difference between speeding and robbing patrons in a restaurant. SOP (standard operating procedures) were followed. These kids were stupid...regardless of the color of their skin. I think had they been white...the end result would have been the same.

The Same Citizens!

Wait for Mr. Barber to come down here to the ocean and make racist comments about the state agency that investigated this incident. We have been talking around our household and have decided that we will start committing crimes so that we can get around the clock Law Enforcement protection. Where is our extra protection? Will we will tell you it is in and around the crime ridden areas of the scuz bucket neighborhoods that house drug dealers and gang members. It isn't fair that we the Law abiding citizens of Wilmington and New Hanover County have to pay taxes and extra taxes for extra Law Officers to babysit the thugs and criminals of the inner city. Well here we go again the politicians will pour more of our tax money to a certain group of people and the rest of us that are considered racists will have to just shut up, grin and bear it! Just saying!

Will Wilmington EVER be Safe Again?

Tremendous job WPD!! If you shoot at an officer, the officer will shoot back at you regardless of your race and regardless of his race. Race should not play a factor. God rest their souls but being Black is not and should not be used as a poor excuse to commit a crime.

Names

Have the Officers involved in the shooting ever been made public. Has the lapdog local media ever asked?

The District Attorney did -

The District Attorney did - but we chose not to publish or air the names in fear that there might be retribution violence.

Not lap-dogging, just trying to be responsible.

sp

Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director

That's in the same line of

That's in the same line of reasoning as to why police officers have unlisted phone numbers. There was a time when they wouldn't even wear their wedding rings because they didn't want the criminals to know that personal information. They may still refrain from wearing their rings. I have a LEO in my family and I thank you for not putting his fellow LEOs in jeopardy.

IN MY OPINION, MR. PICKEY,

IN MY OPINION, MR. PICKEY, YOU DID THE RIGHT THING BY NOT NAMING THE OFFICERS, BUT THE GREAT STAR-NEWS DID IN TODAYS PAPER. THIS PUTS THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES IN HARMS WAY. NO WONDER NO ONE ADMITS TO WITNESSING A CRIME. BUT I GUESS ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS GETTING IT ALL OUT THERE FIRST.

So much

So much for the public's right to know.

Great job

Outstanding job, a great place for these guys, dead. The naacp needs to keep their mouth shut and focus on all the crimes the people they are defending are committing.

Special Thanks WPD!

Thank you Wilmington Police Department and their officers who put their lives on the line daily. Please continue to server the community honorably.

Thank you WPD

A big kudos to the WPD; keep up the good work of taking out these thugs so that the people of this community that obey the laws, work, and pay taxes can enjoy it safely! Thank you WPD!!!

Civilian review boards

What would the circumstances have to be for the DA,ADA or the SBI to go against the officers.The review board should be made up of at least a few civilians. Same reason why the Sec of Defense is not a current military member. It would just make the process seem more palatable.

Perhaps for the officers to

Perhaps for the officers to actually do something illegal?

Remember the prostitution oopsie from WPD last year? About a week ago a former officer pled to charges related to it. That investigation originated within WPD and was handed to the DAs office and the SBI for investigation. So don't pretend that the SBI and the DA's office won't do the right thing.

The idea of a review board is not a good one. These officers don't need people who are afraid to walk through Creekwood at night to decide if what they do in the heat of the moment to protect their own lives is righteous. People who have no idea how little a robber or murdering gang banger values another's life, and how fast things can go south on the street. They need investigators and lawyers that are familiar with caselaw and legalities. If those professionals find there is a possibility of illegal acts, THEN the community can decide based on evidence, not media hype.

Your right is was just a

Your right is was just a prostitution oopsie. This is obviously a more serious matter.

Good Reply

I agree with most that you said, but a review board with some retired cops and or lawyers might be a good idea. Please do not think for a moment that the DA's office and the SBI are not going to side with the officers on a matter that could go either way.

Review Boards

How can people(civilians) who are not cops(uniformed personnel who are trained and educated), review activity of cops and render any kind of sane, rational or coherent judgment on whether the cops are doing their jobs correctly?

Should cops be biased against criminals? Yes.
Should criminals feel uncomfortable on inconvienced because of police presence? I hope they do and should.

IF you have no faith in the system, feel free to exercise your rights to leave and vacate the area at any time.

Look Out, Here is COMES!!!

Okay, we have the official report. Officers cleared and SBI has done due diligence again in finding the truth. Now, here comes all the negative naysayers who will dispute the truth. Mr. Barber and his crew will try to ramp up the negative rhetoric to go the other direction. Stay away and let the decision stand. If this was a black officer shot by a white person would you be as upset? I think NOT.
Unfortunately, we are living in times that are changing on a daily basis. Crimes of this scope are becoming more and more common with both white and blacks involved. People just trying to get some money. We are in a world that will never be the same again.