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Kenerly: Officers will not be charged in October death

Salisbury police officers who shot and killed Alfonzo Leroy Howard Simmons on Oct. 12 were acting in self-defense and will not be charged, says District Attorney William Kenerly.
Master Police Officer T.J. Crews, 33, who has been with the department since 1999, and Master Police Officer M.E. Morgan, 36, who has been with the department since August 2007, along with Rowan County Sheriff’s Deputy Jay Davis, were all involved in the shooting. Morgan previously worked at the Kannapolis Police Department and Davis has worked as a deputy for three years.
Kenerly released this statement on Friday afternoon:
“On October 12, 2008, Alfonzo Leroy Howard Simmons Jr., age 21, died as the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by law enforcement officers of the Salisbury Police Department and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department. Pursuant to a joint request by the Chief of Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation conducted an investigation of this incident. I have reviewed this investigation and determined that the law enforcement officers acted appropriately and did not violate any criminal law.
“At approximately 2:09 a.m. on Sunday, October 12, 2008, the Salisbury Police Department received a telephoned request for investigation of an armed robbery that had just occurred in the parking lot of the Rushco business located at the intersection of Jake Alexander Boulevard and the Mooresville Road. The caller reported that the robbery was perpetrated by four black males driving a white Toyota Camry automobile with a broken out window covered with plastic. She also provided a partial tag number, and stated that the vehicle was last seen behind the Harris Teeter grocery store at the corner of Jake Alexander Boulevard and Brenner Avenue.
“Uniformed city and county officers responded. The vehicle was located, unoccupied, in the public vehicular area of Civic Park Apartments in Salisbury. Officers observed suspicious activity in a nearby apartment. Two Salisbury officers approached the front door of this apartment in order to continue the robbery investigation, while a Sheriff’s Deputy went to the back door of this apartment. These three officers were armed with their issued side arms. A third Salisbury officer arrived, armed himself with his issued rifle, and also began his approach to the front of the apartment.
“As two Salisbury officers knocked on the front door of the apartment an individual later identified as Alfonzo Leroy Howard Simmons Jr., exited the rear of the apartment. The deputy posted there identified himself and ordered Mr. Simmons to stop. Mr. Simmons immediately began to run away from the deputy. As one of the Salisbury officers ran to assist the deputy, the officer collided with Mr. Simmons. Both the officer and Mr. Simmons fell to the ground. Once again Mr. Simmons was ordered to stop, and once again he began to run. After running a few steps Mr. Simmons tripped over curbing and fell. As he regained his feet he pointed a handgun and fired one shot at the officers.
“Mr. Simmons’ shot missed, and officers shouted for him to drop the gun. Mr. Simmons fired a second shot. Officers returned fire as Mr. Simmons began to back away from the officers. He fell to the ground in a sitting position and continued to point the gun at the officers. When he refused to drop the gun, officers fired again. Mr. Simmons was struck multiple times by the officers’ bullets. The Medical Examiner determined that two of Mr. Simmons’ wounds would have been rapidly fatal. He had a blood alcohol content equivalent to .20 on the Breathalyzer at the time of his death.
“A 9 millimeter pistol was found in Mr. Simmons hand, and one fired 9 millimeter shell casing was located at the scene. The S.B.I. laboratory could not conclusively determine whether the fired shell casing matched Mr. Simmons’ pistol, but microscopic similarities existed. The laboratory also determined that the pistol’s safety mechanism was defective and that the magazine catch spring was broken. It is not possible to determine when this damage to the pistol occurred. However, the pistol was found to be otherwise fully functional. An examination of residue collected from Mr. Simmons’ hand revealed the presence of particles characteristic to gunshot residue.
“I regret Mr. Simmons’ death. However, the evidence shows that the law enforcement officers acted in lawful self-defense in the course of a felony investigation and did not violate any criminal law of the State of North Carolina.”

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