KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — District Attorney Ernie Lee said an investigation into a shooting that happened last December between a Duplin County Sheriff’s deputy and an elderly man has wrapped up. Lee has found the shooting was justified.
The investigation revolves around the Christmas Day shooting of Jimmy Norman Bland, 84, that happened at 659 Stockinghead Road in Rose Hill. Upon arrival at the scene, the responding deputy met with the victim who had placed a 911 call saying that Bland was armed with a rifle and had been shooting at his neighbor’s house.
Officials said the deputy later confronted Bland and instructed him to put the gun down. Bland pointed the rifle at the deputy and refused to lower it, prompting the deputy to shoot Bland, striking him in the upper leg, officials said.
In a statement released Friday, Lee said the actions taken by the deputy, who was not identified, “was justified because Bland’s actions caused the Duplin County deputy to reasonably believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect his life and the lives of others.”
The State Bureau of Investigation began an investigation into the incident shortly after it happened. Lee said on Feb. 14, he received a copy of the SBI’s findings. After concluding a murder trial in Onslow County where James Kelly Moore III was convicted in the murder of Shelby Brown, Lee said he prepared his findings and spoke with Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace before releasing his final result.
Lee’s press release reads in part, “The deputy met with Edward Bland, age 62 years, who indicated that his father had shot at him with a rifle. The deputy confirmed the general location of Jimmy Bland on a dirt road. The deputy stopped his vehicle and he observed Jimmy Bland approaching him with the rifle. The deputy shouted at Jimmy Bland several times requesting he drop the rifle, but Jimmy Bland refused. Jimmy Bland raised his rifle and pointed it at the deputy. The deputy fired multiple times striking Jimmy Bland once in the upper left leg. The deputy as well as other deputies who arrived at the scene as backup provided medical aid to Jimmy Bland. EMS responded to the scene and Jimmy Bland was transported to the hospital.
“Based upon my review of the facts of this case, I have determined that the shooting of Jimmy Bland was justified to protect the safety and life of the Duplin County deputy as the threat appeared to the deputy. The deputy perceived an apparent threat, evaluated the situation in seconds, made a decision and acted. The deputy’s actions appear reasonable under all the circumstances of this case. The deputy faced apparent danger as perceived by him. The deputy was justified in defending himself from death or great bodily injury. There is insufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the deputy acted in any manner that was not consistent with his perception of an apparent threat. In fact, an actual threat was posed by Jimmy Bland in that he possessed a loaded firearm that was raised by Jimmy Bland in the direction of the deputy.”