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D.A. clears Fletcher officers in fatal shooting of armed suspect

Four Fletcher Police Officers who responded to a call on July 18 of an armed suspect inside the Fletcher CVS Pharmacy and subsequently shot and killed the suspect will not face criminal prosecution, District Attorney Greg Newman announced on Friday.

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“State law permits law enforcement officers to defend themselves with the use of force when self- defense or the defense of innocent bystanders is imperative,” he said. “My decision in this case, like all cases, is driven by the facts and my office will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
The four officers that discharged their weapons were Capt. Ron Davis, Detective Daniel Barale, Officer Zack Warren, and Officer Mike Elizondo. The deceased was identified as Wesley Brandon Clyde Shelton, 33, of Buncombe County.

“The customary course of action in these matters where law enforcement officers must use their weapons is investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation,” Newman said. “We then meet and they review their findings with me. I like to let the public know as soon as it is practicable whether the police shooting of a suspect is justified. It is clear in this situation that the actions of the four officers were not only justified, but necessary, to defend themselves and members of the public.”

Fletcher police were notified shortly after noon that a man holding a gun was inside the CVS Pharmacy at Hendersonville Road. The store manager was re-stocking shelves when she noticed a barefoot male walking through the store aisles and acting erratically. The man, later identified Shelton, pulled out a gun after the manager asked him if he needed help finding anything. The manager got her employees into a safe area and cleared the store of all customers.

On-duty officers responded to the call were then joined by a detective and police captain who were working in their offices at the Fletcher Police Department. Sgt. Hensley, the first officer to arrive, located the armed suspect in the upstairs level of the stockroom. When other officers arrived, Hensley was shouting commands to Shelton to disarm and to leave the store with the officers. Shelton was lying prostrate on his back on the opposite side of the stockroom.  His hands were initially not visible to the police, but Capt. Davis observed a gun in Shelton’s left hand and could also see that Shelton appeared to be taking deep breaths. After numerous pleas from police for Shelton to put down his gun, Shelton said “Let’s do this” and “Let’s get this over with” and he sat up and pointed the gun directly at the officers. It was at that point that shots were fired resulting in Shelton’s death.  Officer Hensley discharged his Taser but only one probe made contact with Shelton. Hensley was later treated and released from the hospital for injuries he sustained from slipping down several steps at the scene.

Shelton’s gun was a Powerline/Daisy .177 caliber BB handgun. According to the SBI, the handgun looked like a real semi-automatic pistol.  One agent said that the gun looked just like a Beretta 92F. It did not have the orange tip or markings to indicate the weapon was anything other than an actual semi-automatic firearm.

The evidence developed by the SBI also revealed that Shelton has a long history of drug use. In 2011, Shelton was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon for brandishing a firearm when he robbed a convenience store in Buncombe County. He served a six-year prison sentence before being released in the summer of 2017.

Fletcher Police Chief Erik Summey conducted an internal review of the officer’s actions and concluded that they performed their duties within the guidelines established for North Carolina peace officers and adopted by the Fletcher Police. “All officers involved in this incident are in the process of being cleared to return to work. We have been awaiting the District Attorney’s decision and are now in a position to allow these men to resume their duties with the Fletcher Police,” said Chief Summey. “The CVS pharmacy is a busy store on a busy road. It is not our intention to use our weapons when we respond to a call for service, but my officers have no choice but to fire their guns when drawn upon by someone placing the public at risk, “ added the Chief.

District Attorney Newman advised Mr. Shelton’s wife of his decision. “I will make the contents of the SBI file available for review by both Ms. Shelton and Fletcher Police Chief Summey in the near future,” Newman said.