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.