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DA Clears Sampson County Deputy In July 4 Shooting Of Armed Man

Salemburg, NC – The district attorney announced he has determined that the fatal deputy-involved shooting of 49-year-old Craig Locklear on July 4 was justified.

The incident began on July 3 in Fayetteville when Locklear was celebrating his upcoming birthday, WNCN reported.

Prosecutorial District 5 District Attorney Ernest Lee said witnesses said Locklear had been drinking and doing drugs so family and friends tried to hide the keys to his van so he wouldn’t drive.

But Lee said Locklear became enraged and broke a window in the home so they eventually caved and gave him the keys, WNCN reported.

The district attorney said Locklear warned them not to contact law enforcement and told them “it would not end well” if they did.

But family members notified the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office shortly after Locklear drove away at 3 a.m. on July 4, WCTI reported.

Deputies spotted Locklear and tried to pull him over on NC Highway 301 South near Fayetteville.

But Locklear fled and led deputies on a chase into Sampson County that reached speeds of more than 100 m.p.h., WNCN reported.

Deputies deployed stop sticks and deflated the suspect’s tires, but when his vehicle became disabled, Locklear fled on foot with a gun in his hands, according to WCTI.

Lee said an open bottle of tequila and a bottle of vodka were found in his abandoned vehicle.

Authorities searched for Locklear in the woods, but he managed to evade them, WNCN reported.

The district attorney said the evidence showed Locklear had contacted relatives, two of whom picked him up in a black Mazda 3000 pickup truck.

Lee said he told the family members that he planned to go take a shower and then turn himself in to the sheriff’s department, WNCN reported.

But a Sampson County sheriff’s deputy who was patrolling the Bonnetsville and Laural Lake Campground areas saw Locklear in the back of the pickup and stopped the truck, WCTI reported.

The district attorney’s investigation determined that Locklear raised up in the bed of the truck and pulled a gun from the pocket of his pants.

The deputy and two of Locklear’s relatives pleaded with him to drop the weapon but he ignored them, WNCN reported.

Lee said that Locklear announced to them that he wasn’t going to drop his gun and he wasn’t going to go to jail.

The deputy and a family member both told the district attorney’s investigators that when the deputy approached the truck, Locklear raised the gun at him, WNCN reported.

Lee said that was when the deputy opened fire and shot Locklear four times.

He said the deputy immediately began performing first aid on the suspect and applied pressure to Locklear’s chest until the ambulance arrived, WCTI reported.

An autopsy determined that Locklear was killed by a bullet wound to his chest.

The deputy who shot Locklear told the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation that he believed Locklear was armed and dangerous and that he saw the suspect raise his hand with what appeared to be a revolver in it, WCTI reported.

He said the suspect ignored commands to drop the gun, according to the district attorney.

The district attorney said the deputy was not wearing a bodycam, nor was his vehicle equipped with a camera.

Lee said that his investigation had determined that the deputy had complied with Sampson County Sheriff’s Office policies and North Carolina laws concerning the use of deadly force when he fatally shot Locklear, WCTI reported.

“Based upon my review of the facts of this case, I have determined that the shooting of Craig Locklear was justified to protect the safety and life of the Sampson County deputy as the threat appeared to the deputy,” the district attorney said in a press release, according WNCN.

“Although the loss of life is tragic, the deputy perceived an apparent threat, evaluated the situation in seconds, made a decision and acted,” Lee continued. “The deputy’s actions appear reasonable under all the circumstances of this case. The deputy faced apparent danger as perceived by him. The deputy was justified in defending himself from death or great bodily injury.”

“There is insufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the deputy acted in any manner that was not consistent with his perception of an apparent threat. In fact, an actual threat was posed by Locklear in that he possessed a loaded firearm that was raised by Locklear in the direction of the deputy,” the district attorney explained.

“In this case, I have determined that the shooting was justified, and that the deputy acted in accordance with his training and in compliance with the rules and laws concerning use of force and self-defense,” Lee concluded.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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