Raleigh, N.C. — The Raleigh police officer who shot and killed a man after a crash on the side of Interstate 440 is on administrative leave while state officials investigate whether or not the shooting was justified.
The State Bureau of Investigations is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting, which is typical for shootings involving law enforcement officers.
Since 2019, nine people have been shot by Raleigh police officers ,and six of those people were killed, according to a WRAL Investigates analysis. In all of the nine Raleigh police shootings since 2019, state investigators found that police officers acted justly with their use of deadly force.
In this instance, the officers did what they were trained to do, according to Chris Swecker, a former Federal Bureau of Investigations agent and local attorney.
“You have the consider that officers are making a split-second judgement, making life or death decision,” Swecker said.
For the SBI’s investigation, agents will likely use body camera footage and video taken by bystanders to determine if the officer’s deadly force was justified. Swecker analyzed one video captured at the scene by a bystander submitted to WRAL News.
“There was a child involved, but the child was out of harm’s way,” he said. “You had five officers trying to subdue this subject who was not cooperating [and] had a knife.”
The person recording the video was shouting in Spanish at the man who police say had a knife. Video submitted to WRAL News does not clearly show a knife visible.
While the identity of the man shot and killed by police has not yet been released, many on social media speculate the man is Hispanic based off this video.
Regardless, both Swecker and Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said they do not believe a language barrier led to Tuesday’s shooting.
“Someone was yelling at him, ‘primo,’ which means cousin, ‘siéntese,’ which means sit down,” Swecker said. “Somebody close by was yelling at him to cooperate.”
Instead of cooperating, he tried to walk away, video shows. Raleigh officers first used a Taser to shock the man in the back, and he fell down. The officers jumped on top of the man, and he began struggling before they could take the knife away, according to Raleigh police.
“In their training, and in my training as an FBI agent, we were told that knives are deadly weapons,” Swecker said. “Knives can be used to cut your throat, and stab you in the heart, and they can kill you in milliseconds.”
After officers unsuccessfully tried take the knife away from the man, police said, one officer stepped back and shot him.
“Because of the proximity of the officers to the person, and him swinging the knife around, I have a preliminary opinion that’s going to be a justified shooting,” Swecker said.
According to Mapping Police Violence, an organization that tracks police shootings, Raleigh police have killed nearly 2 people for every one million residents. The rate that Raleigh police officer kill is nearly half that of Charlotte and Durham police.