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HPD officer justified in shooting at armed fleeing suspect, D.A. says

Hendersonville Police Officer Keenan Nesbitt was justified when he fired at a suspect who pulled a gun as he ran from the officer down an alley in downtown Hendersonville, District Attorney Greg Newman announced.


The Hendersonville police received a call on April 22 about a man with a firearm outside Hannah Flanagan's, which is against the law.  The gun owner, later identified as Robert Gregory Robinson, exposed his gun both inside and outside the establishment.  When approached by officer Nesbitt and asked to stand up, the suspect - who was later identified as Robinson – fled the scene on foot while simultaneously pulling out his handgun.   Officer Nesbitt, who was shouting instructions to Robinson to stop and drop his weapon, fired at Robinson, striking him in the arm.  Robinson was arrested, treated at the hospital and taken into custody.

“It is customary in any police use-of-force encounter for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to review the matter to determine if the law enforcement officer’s actions were reasonable and necessary in the circumstances,” Newman said.  “I met with the investigators and they briefed me on their findings.  It was clear to the SBI agents, and certainly to me, that officer Nesbitt handled the situation very well. I can say without any hesitation that he is cleared of any criminal liability. I directed the SBI to return Nesbitt’s service weapon to him and have communicated my decision to Chief Blake.  We have a professional police department and they do a great job enforcing our laws and protecting our people."

Newman declined to comment more specifically on the facts since Robinson has pending cases from the incident. Robinson,  due in the Henderson County District Court on May 14, faces the felony charges of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Possession of a Stolen Firearm, Altering a Serial Number of a Firearm and two unrelated misdemeanor charges.