Officer cleared in fatal shooting

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2011

By Shelley Smith
SALISBURY — Salisbury Police Officer Jeremy Cable acted lawfully and will face no charges in the Nov. 13, 2010 shooting death of Salisbury resident James “Rick” Brown, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook said Wednesday.
In a statement, Cook said she made the decision after investigating the facts of the case.
Authorities said the shooting occurred after James Brown hit his father Dewitt Brown in the head with a baseball bat then threatened Cable and another officer.
Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins says he agrees with Cook’s findings and is “pleased with the outcome of the investigation.”
“And that’s precisely how I expected it to result after our review,” he said. “We completed our review internally in addition to the investigation done by the SBI. We found no policy or procedural violations.”
Brown’s relatives said they don’t agree with the district attorney’s conclusions.
Cook’s statement described the events this way:
Brown’s wife, Christine Brown, told investigators she called Dewitt Brown and Mary Crayton, her husband’s sister, for help after he got drunk, slapped her and pushed her into a door.
When Crayton arrived at Brown’s 2410 Stokes Ferry Road home, Brown assaulted her, punching her and knocking her to the ground. Christine Brown called 911.
Cable and Salisbury Police Officer Terry Moore responded to the domestic disturbance call around 12:45 a.m. They arrived to find Brown had closed the doors and turned out the lights inside the home. Dewitt Brown was outside.
The officers went to the front door, but couldn’t get Brown to answer, so they went around the house with his father, who pushed the back door into the kitchen open with his shoulder.
Dewitt Brown entered first, with Cable and Moore following. Dewitt Brown called out for his son but was struck in the head with a baseball bat and fell to the ground.
Brown then raised the bat over his shoulder and went at the officers.
Moore and Cable drew their guns and ordered Brown several times to drop the bat, but Brown “refused and kept advancing toward Officer Moore in a threatening manner,”Cook said.
“Officer Cable stated that he believed that James Brown was going to cause serious injury or death to Officer Moore and then to himself or to Dewitt Brown,” she said. “Officer Cable fired one round which struck James Brown in the chest and Officer Cable immediately called for EMS.”
Brown was dead when medical responders arrived at 1:08 a.m. The medical examiner found he had been drinking alcohol and was intoxicated when he died.
Brown’s sister, Crayton, said she didn’t agree with all of the findings or Cook’s determination in the case. She called the shooting “murder.”
Crayton said she asked the officers to let Dewitt Brown speak to her brother before confronting him, but they followed him in the back door anyway.
“I was on the front porch, beating on the door for him to let me in,” she said. “They (officers) were at the back door with daddy.
“But daddy was trying to get in there to talk to my brother because he was scared he was gonna hurt himself. Then, when daddy pushed in the door, that’s when it all happened. I heard footsteps and, ‘Bat, bat, bat!’ I heard three shots. … He never told him to drop his weapon.”
Crayton said the SBI called her several days ago with an update on the investigation, and she wasn’t surprised they found Cable lawfully shot her brother.
“I kind of figured that he would, ya know,” she said.
And even though the investigation is closed, Crayton said she will live with the memories of that day for the rest of her life.
“I see my dead brother laying on the floor every single day, in my head, because that policeman would not wait,” she said.
Collins said he understands Brown’s family is upset, “and it is certainly regrettable that it occurred like it did.”
“What happened is always a last resort for us,” he said. “However, the investigation was thorough, and I feel comfortable with the results.”