Shooting investigations may take weeks

Published 6:17 pm Friday, October 26, 2018

Two investigations related to a pair of unconnected officer-involved shootings last weekend remain ongoing, and it may be weeks, or even months, before the final details of these investigations are released to the public, if they are at all.

“We have a process to handle this type of situation,” said District Attorney Seth Edwards. “The SBI is trained in these type of situations and know what needs to be done. I’m hoping the public will be patient as the investigation takes its course. Once the investigation is submitted to my office in both of these situations, we will review it at that time and make a determination on how to proceed.”

The first shooting took place on Saturday night near Chocowinity, when a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy shot a suspect in the arm. The man shot during the incident, Billy Grizzard III, was wanted by the Greenville Police Department in the shooting death of a 19-year-old man at a Greenville grocery store earlier that day.

The second death, which resulted in a fatality, took place on Sunday afternoon, when a Washington Police Department officer attempted to stop a car near the intersection of Washington and 11th streets. According to a release from the WPD, Washington resident Cedric Pritchard was shot dead after he allegedly “exited the vehicle armed with a firearm as the officer approached.”

In both cases, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the shootings. The names of the officers involved in the shootings have not yet been released.

Both the WPD and BCSO have policies in place that require an outside investigation by the SBI in the event of an officer-related shooting. Both agencies have a policy of placing the officer involved on administrative leave pending the outcome of the SBI investigations.

According to a 2016 document produced by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys entitled “Investigating and Prosecuting Use of Force Incidents in North Carolina,” The SBI is authorized to give assistance, on request, to local sheriffs, police officers, district attorneys and judges to investigate both fatal and non-fatal officer-involved shootings, as well as deaths in custody and complaints of use of excessive force by officers.

“A thorough investigation may require a significant amount of time,” The document states. “The SBI estimates that while the majority of the (case) file will be complete within 6-8 weeks, it may require an additional 2-3 months, and in some cases even longer, for the completion of the final report.”

According to representatives from the SBI Public Information department, SBI reports are not public record under state law. Edwards said once the investigation is completed, his office may request more information before determining whether criminal charges are warranted in either case.

If criminal charges were brought as the result of either investigation, prosecutors would be ethically restricted from commenting on the case. If criminal charges were not filed, Edwards says he would share relevant details with the public as to how he arrived at that decision.

Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford said that no new information was available as of Friday afternoon and that his agency is awaiting the results of the SBI investigation.

Pastor Marcus Miller, of New Birth Christian Center, said on Friday that Pritchard’s family is considering legal options, but is likewise awaiting the results of the SBI investigation.

BCSO Chief Deputy Charlie Rose, in an email earlier this week, said that no further information on the BCSO-involved shooting will be released until that investigation is concluded.