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Salisbury Police release new details of officer involved shooting

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Police officials have released new details about an officer-involved shooting that killed a young black man, 22-year-old Ferguson Claude Laurent Jr., on Thursday morning.

Officers collected crack cocaine, weapons, ammunition, a bulletproof vest and other items from the mobile home where Laurent lived on East Lafayette Street.

At a press conference Friday, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes released details about the search warrant officers served at the residence, evidence collected at the home, incident reports of the shooting, a report of an August break-in at the home, and statistics on the serving of search warrants in the city within the last two years.

Stokes said the press conference was a way to be transparent and clear up rumors about the shooting.

The incident started when members of the police department’s Special Response Team, which includes narcotics detectives, went to 625 E. Lafayette St. Thursday morning around 9:10 a.m. to serve what’s called a “no-knock” warrant.

Police detectives parked their cars, one with its blue lights on, in a shared driveway between two sets of mobile homes, Stokes said. A couple of detectives wearing clothing that identified them as police surrounded the mobile home.

A man inside the home opened a window as if to crawl out. Stokes said he’s almost positive it was not Laurent, but that officials are still working to confirm that detail.

“That person would’ve likely been able to see they were officers and that the vehicle in the driveway had its emergency blue lights on,” Stokes said.

He said the Special Response Team forced a rear door open, threw in a flashbang grenade to spread smoke in the hallway and announced “Police” as they entered.

In a back bedroom, the team immediately encountered Laurent. Stokes believes Laurent knew the men were police.

The chief said he couldn’t go into too many details, but he has a “firm belief that they knew they were police officers.”

At an earlier press conference on Thursday, Stokes had said Laurent fired once at police and Karl Boehm, a member of the Special Response Team, fired back twice.

An incident report released Friday describes the number of shots fired differently. Officers Boehm and D. Lancaster were the first officers to enter, and Laurent fired his weapon. The report says Boehm returned fire, “striking Laurent several times.”

Medical personnel on the scene immediately administered first aid. Laurent was taken to Novant Rowan Medical Center, where he later died.

Body cameras

The Special Response Team officers were not wearing body cameras — devices Stokes has said only patrol officers wear.

City officials say it is a standard practice for Special Response Team members to go without body cameras so they do not reveal tactics for gaining entry into potentially “dangerous and volatile situations.”

Two people were taken into custody at the scene following the shooting, but only one was arrested, Stokes said.

Police charged Ariel Anthony Petersen, 20, on an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor resist, obstruct, delay an officer from a Jan. 22 incident. According to the arrest warrant, Petersen had run from an officer who was searching him before placing him in a patrol car.

After being arrested Thursday, Petersen was released from the Rowan County jail under a $1,500 secured bond.

Stokes said police are still conducting a drug investigation and more charges could follow. The other person was released.

Boehm, 33, has been employed with the Salisbury Police since March 2008 and has been placed on administrative paid leave pending the outcome of the SBI and internal police investigation.

In 2010, Boehm was involved in another fatal shooting that was investigated by the SBI and determined to be justified.

Search warrant

A typical search warrant is served in a “knock and announce” manner where officers knock on a door and identify themselves until someone either opens the door or it is forced open.

The no-knock warrant was issued and signed by a Superior Court judge on Tuesday.

Salisbury Police Detective D.M. Barkalow requested the warrant be a no-knock because he believed officers executing the warrant would be in danger if they announced before they entered.

The warrant says police were working with a confidential informant who had recently purchased marijuana at the mobile home.

The informant told police officials that he saw multiple weapons in the home and the people who lived there were “known to regularly possess weapons on their persons.”

The warrant says the occupants of the mobile home are suspects in armed robberies and other weapon-related crimes.

Police found and seized what officials believed to be crack cocaine from a bedroom and several burnt marijuana roaches throughout the mobile home. Officials also collected marijuana, rolling papers, digital scales, $1,513 in cash, weapons accessories, cell phones, ammunition, a bullet proof vest and a bong mask.

Other items collected include an expensive watch, flat-screen televisions, a laptop computer, video games and consoles, and a tablet.

Rumor mill

City officials say they’ve been made aware of a number of rumors regarding the time frame following the shooting and when Laurent was taken to a local hospital.

A call was made for an unknown medical to the Rowan County Emergency Services at 9:16 a.m. An ambulance was dispatched to the scene a minute later. The ambulance was noted to be en route to the scene at 9:19 a.m. The ambulance arrived on the scene at 9:21 a.m. and was en route to the hospital at 9:26 a.m. Officials said CPR was performed in the ambulance at 9:30 a.m.

Police Capt. Shelia Lingle said medical responders who were on scene with the SRT had already begun performing CPR on Laurent inside the mobile home before the ambulance arrived.

After the shooting, the city posted information on its online Rumor Control Page. Stokes said the web page has been a way for the police and city officials to know what concerns people have and “what we need to be answering for the public.”

Some people in the community have questioned why police couldn’t serve a warrant for Laurent outside of the home, in the open. Police have said the warrant was for a search of the home only, and not for Laurent’s arrest.

Since 2014, Salisbury Police have served three no-knock warrants. Two were conducted at the same time in 2014 and the third was Thursday, according to statistics provided by the Salisbury Police Department.

Police have conducted seven knock-and-announce warrants over the past two years — three in 2014, two in 2015 and two  this year.

Officers on the Special Response Team have been the ones who have served the warrants since 2014.

In 2016, the police have had five narcotics investigation search warrants, and the SRT members were used in three.

In 2015, police served 16 narcotics investigation search warrants, and the SRT members were involved in two.

In 2014, police served 20 narcotics-related search warrants and, of those, the SRT members were involved in five.

Prior break-in

Friends and neighbors said they believed Ferguson Laurent may have been on alert because of a break-in at his place a few weeks ago.

Stokes released the brief incident report from the break-in which says two video game consoles and $135 were taken.

The break-in occurred Aug. 26, when Laurent was at work. He arrived home, the report says, and noticed a broken window.

Laurent could not tell police who may have broken into his home, according to the report. Police said they dusted for fingerprints, but because the window was dirty they were unable to obtain any. No arrest has been made in that incident.

For more information about the City of Salisbury Rumor Control page, visit www.salisburync.gov/RumorControl

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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