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SBI charges deputy who authorities say shot man in parking lot

SBI agents on Friday afternoon brought a felony assault charge against the Henderson County sheriff’s deputy who authorities say shot and wounded a man standing beside a patrol cruiser in an apartment complex parking lot Friday morning.

Joshua Rankin, whom Sheriff Lowell Griffin fired within hours of the shooting, is charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury. The Hendersonville Police Department served the warrant and took Rankin into custody without incident. He was released on a $20,000 bond. 

In a news release the city identified the victim as Matthew Browning, 25, of 245 Brittany Place. Browning was initially treated on the scene for an apparent gunshot wound to his arm and was later transported to Pardee Hospital. 

Matthew's father, Zachary Browning, told WLOS that his son is “on the lower-functioning end of the (autism) spectrum ... largely non-verbal” and unable to "communicate those feelings" when he gets frustrated.

Browning said he wants Rankin held to account.

“He doesn’t need a weapon,” he told News 13 . “He’s dangerous. He’s going to hurt or kill somebody else, and he almost did it today. He almost killed my son today.”

Rankin was hired by the Henderson County Sheriff's Office as a detention officer trainee in July 2021 and worked as a jailer until he transferred to patrol deputy in June 2023, county personnel records show.

"No one is above being held accountable for their actions," Griffin declared Friday when he fired Rankin.

The investigation into the officer-involved shooting was led by the SBI and also involved Hendersonville police.

"The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is aware of this morning’s events, and we have removed ourselves from the investigation surrounding the incident at Brittany Estates," Griffin said in a statement released at 12:52 p.m. "At this time, I am able to release that Joshua Rankin’s employment with Henderson County Sheriff’s Office has been terminated," he added. "For obvious reasons, I will be unable to comment further until the investigation is completed and reviewed by District Attorney Andrew Murray. However, I believe that no one is above being held accountable for their actions."

Rankin was among graduates in the summer of 2022 of the Detention Officer Certification Course at Blue Ridge Community College, BRCC said in a news release at the time. He had graduated from the community college's Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy in the spring of 2021.

Hendersonville police responding to the sound of gunshots at Brittany Place Apartments at 7:09 Friday morning quickly determined that an off-duty Henderson County Sheriff’s deputy fired at an individual who was standing beside a parked patrol car, the city of Hendersonville said.