District Attorney clears police officer in Ferguson Laurent shooting

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Salisbury Police officer Karl Boehm has been cleared in the November shooting death of Ferguson Claude Laurent, according to a statement from Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook.

Cook said the officer acted lawfully and did not violate any criminal laws.

“Therefore, criminal charges are not warranted against him for the shooting death of Mr. Ferguson Laurent Jr.,” her statement said.

The 172-page statement details the investigation, evidence collected at the scene and analyzed by the NC State Crime Lab, details of the autopsy report, legal analysis and remarks to the community.

The decision comes seven months after the Nov. 3 shooting, in which according to police, occurred while they were at 625 E. Lafayette St. attempting to serve a “no-knock” search warrant. A no-knock search warrant does not require officers to immediately announce they are there to serve a warrant.

Police Chief Jerry Stokes said during a November press conference that officers served the warrant after a three-month investigation. He said there was some suspicion that the people in the home were involved in some violent crimes and armed with weapons.

Members of the Salisbury Police Department Special Response Team served the warrant because suspects in the home were known to be armed, police said in November. The special response team included narcotic detectives.

Police seized what officials believed to be crack cocaine, marijuana and several burnt marijuana roaches, rolling papers, digital scales, $1,513 in cash, weapons accessories, cellphones, ammunition, a bulletproof vest and a bong mask at the residence.

They also seized an expensive watch, flat-screen televisions, a laptop computer, video games and consoles and a computer tablet.

The shooting has sparked outrage in the community about whether police should employ no-knock warrants and whether there will be violence in the community about the outcome.

The Post obtained autopsy results in January. The medical examiner determined Laurent had 10 separate gunshot wounds: one in the head, five in the torso, two in the right upper arm, one in the right forearm and one in the left wrist and forearm.

The gunshot to the head did not pierce the skull or “directly strike the brain,” according to the report, but there were bruises from the bullet in the right temporal lobe. The shots to the torso included hits to the right lung, diaphragm and liver.

The report said seven bullets were recovered from the body and separate fragments were found in some of the wounds. There were also three bullets found from previous gunshots.

Karl Boehm was a member of the Special Response Team. Boehm has been with the police department since 2008. Police Chief Stokes has said Boehm had been involved in a shooting in 2010. Following an investigation, it was deemed a justified shooting. The officer has one disciplinary action on his record, which was a suspension related to a driving infraction.

Boehm has been on leave since the November shooting, pending the completion of the internal police investigation and SBI investigation.

“It is important to remember and respect the fact that Mr. Laurent Jr.’s family members are grieving the loss of a loved one, and that their lives have forever been affected by this event,” Cook said.

Her office reached out to Laurent’s family’s attorneys to discuss the findings of the SBI investigation as well as her office’s decision.

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