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Darts & laurels: Autopsy details shed light

Editor’s note: This editorial has been updated to correct errors about the number of shots police said were fired and whether the autopsy report supported their account. The Post regrets the errors. 

Dart to lingering questions about the death of Ferguson Laurent Jr. during the serving of a no-knock search warrant on Nov. 3. Salisbury Police said Laurent shot at officers as they burst into his house and set off a flash-bang grenade, and an officer shot back. An autopsy report from the N.C. Medical Examiner provides important details, describing 10 gunshot wounds on Laurent. Some bullets may have caused more than one wound. It appears Laurent was shot eight times. Initially police said he was shot once or twice; later Chief Jerry Stokes said several shots were fired. The 22-year-old Laurent was 6 feet tall and 270 pounds. No drugs or alcohol were found in his system. Were eight bullets necessary to stop him?

Authorities found marijuana and cocaine in Laurent’s residence, though not huge quantities. They also found rolling papers, digital scales, weapons accessories and a bulletproof vest.

Salisbury Police are undermanned and working hard to fight violent crime. If anything, the city needs more searches and arrests. But the way those searches are carried out is important. This incident led to the killing of a suspect. Officers put their lives on the line, too. Questions linger. Maybe the SBI investigation can provide definitive answers. The community needs the whole story.

Laurels to the plan to establish a ropes course at Dan Nicholas Park. Rowan County commissioners gave tentative approval this week to establishing a course that would be 15 to 45 feet off the ground and cover two acres. This increases the adventure quotient of the park enormously. Here are two suggestions, one obvious and one not-so-obvious. First, county officials should make certain this ropes course is as safe as possible. An outside party, Adventure Management Group, will build and operate the course; the group should be held to the highest possible standards. Second, while they’re at it, why not include a low-ropes course? Not everyone wants to swing high above the ground to experience adventure.

Dart to the record of an individual trying to raise money for veterans’ housing in Salisbury. Mooresville resident Kenneth Lagonia and Sonya White announced several weeks ago that they had formed a charity named Training, Educating and Motivating to build a veterans village near the VA Medical Center. They said they had spent roughly $100,000 of their own money to find housing and jobs for veterans and ex-offenders. The rest of the story soon surfaced. Lagonia is supposed to be paying $19 million in restitution — at $260 a month, incredibly — stemming from federal conspiracy charges involving a New Jersey scheme. It’s a long story; Lagonia entered a guilty plea but says he’s innocent. At any rate, be careful when donating money to groups that claim to help veterans. Check out the organizations’ track records — and the records of the people running them. Make an informed decision.

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