CLINTON, N.C. — North Carolina authorities have cleared eight officers who fatally shot a 53-year-old white man, striking him 14 times, after he pointed a shotgun at them.
Sampson County District Attorney Ernie Lee ruled the May 29 shooting in a Burger King parking lot justified, local media outlets report Monday.
“No criminal charges in the matter are warranted under the law,” Lee wrote in an 11-page report, which was based on a state investigation.
The report says officers tried for nearly 20 minutes to get John Coffey of Warsaw to put down the gun. Seven Clinton officers and a highway trooper fired 143 shots in less than a minute after Coffey opened the door of his pickup.
An autopsy showed Coffey was shot in the head, shoulders, neck and torso.
Lee says a state investigation found Coffey never fired his shotgun. It was not loaded.
Still, the officers’ actions were reasonable given the circumstances. Coffey holding the shotgun as he opened the door could “reasonably be deemed as threatening,” Lee wrote.
The confrontation began around midnight, after Coffey pulled into the parking lot and asked a customer to call police, saying he needed help. Two officers initially responded in separate vehicles. More were called to assist after Coffey pointed the gun, according to the report.
Dashboard video appears to show the first shot came from the trooper, the report says.
Coffey’s wife told investigators he was severely depressed.
All officers placed on administrative leave after the shooting were reinstated Monday.