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Cabarrus deputy shoots, wounds suspect

CONCORD — A Cabarrus County deputy shot and wounded a man who used a stolen car to ram into law enforcement vehicles, nearly hitting deputies, Sheriff Brad Riley said.

Joseph Jermaine Mercer, of Shiloh Church Road in Davidson, was hospitalized in stable condition late Wednesday, Riley said in a news release.

The deputy who shot Mercer, Matthew Pethel, has been placed on administrative duty as a matter of protocol, Riley said. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.

The incident began around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when a deputy spotted a vehicle on Poplar Tent Road that had been reported stolen. He was awaiting backup to stop the car when the driver pulled into a driveway and stopped, the news release said.

The news release continues:

“Though the officer tried to delay the stop until backup was closer, he was forced to activate his blue light and command a stop. The officer did communicate with the driver and passenger from a short distance and for a brief for moment. The driver seemed very nervous and fidgety and swiftly floored the gas to flee, leaving his passenger in the driveway.

“A chase ensued that ended at the intersection of Poplar Tent Road and Derita Road, where the suspect was involved in a crash with several patrol cars. The passenger was left in the driveway and never part of the chase.”

At least two deputies exited their patrol cars to get the driver out of the stolen car, but he used the car to crash into the patrol and nearly struck the deputies several times, the news release said. 

“As the suspect car was being used as a deadly weapon towards the officer(s), one deputy fired his firearm through the front glass, striking the suspect at least one time in the shoulder and neck region of his body,” the news release said.

The deputies rendered first aid to the man and EMS later transported him to the hospital, from which he may be released today or Saturday, according to the news release. He will be charged after authorities talk with the district attorney.

The passenger in the stolen vehicle — who was left in the driveway before the chase — was identified as Robert Graham of Concord. Riley called Graham “very cooperative” and said he was released after being questioned. No charges are expected against Graham.

“It is apparent to the investigators that the suspect was involved in criminal activity, maybe even beyond being in a stolen car; and that he attempted to use the car as a deadly weapon that placed grave harm on the deputies’ lives,” Riley said in the news release. “It’s always a tragedy when someone gets hurt. We are just thankful that no one died today.”

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