Lawsuit settled in Brunswick County DWI checkpoint shooting


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The lawsuit filed by two men shot during a 2013 DWI checkpoint in Brunswick County has been settled for $155,000.

Antoine Graham and Jerry Melvin sued the New Hanover County Sheriff, Brunswick County Sheriff, and Leland Police Department after the June 14 shooting in Leland.

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Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said the men were in a Lincoln Navigator that came speeding toward deputies who were running the DWI checkpoint.

“The officers at the scene perceived their lives to be in danger or the lives of their fellow officers to be in danger,” Ingram said a couple of days after the shooting.

Four deputies from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and three from New Hanover County opened fire to try and stop the SUV. It was later discovered a Leland Police Officer was also involved.

Sheriff Ingram said the SUV went through the median and into the northbound lane of HWY 17. One of the men jumped out of the car, the other continued driving toward Wilmington.

Deputies then rammed the SUV and spun it around. A Brunswick County deputy approached the SUV and fired more shots.

The deputies were later put on either administrative duties or administrative leave with pay while the SBI investigated. Two weeks later, the deputies returned to their duties after they were cleared in an internal investigation.

In August, after getting the results of the SBI investigation, Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David said the deputies were justified in using lethal force when they shot at the vehicle.

According to documents prepared for next week’s New Hanover County Board of Commissioners meeting, the lawsuit was resolved by paying Graham $85,000 and Melvin $70,000. All the monies were paid by either the insurance company or Brunswick County.

We reached out to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.

We received the following statement from the staff attorney:

“Both Antione Graham and Jerry Melvin did file lawsuits as a result of the 2014 incident at the checkpoint in Leland.

Sheriff Ingram’s position in this case is that a summary judgment in favor of the deputies and officers of the assisting agencies was extremely probable. However, as in many civil claims for damages, the decision to settle or proceed to trial in this case was guided primarily by the insurance carrier and their attorneys.

The bottom line is that the cost for the insurance company to settle was less than the projected cost to take this case to trial.”

According to the NC Department of Public Safety online records, Graham was convicted on Assault with a Deadly Weapon on Government/Officers/Employees and spent 7 months behind bars.