JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The shooting of a 17-year-old last November after a traffic incident was deemed justified by District Attorney Ernie Lee. He announced his findings during a press conference Wednesday morning.

Lee said Jorge Miguel Lopez was the teen identified who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Jacksonville on Nov. 8, 2022. The shooting happened after officers tried to stop a vehicle during a traffic violation. It led to a short chase and the vehicle crashing in a ditch on Old White Street. Officials said there was an armed encounter where the officer shot the teen.

Lopez died after being transported to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. The name of the officer involved in the shooting has not been released.

CLICK HERE to read the district attorney’s press release

“I have determined that the shooting of Lopez on November 8th, 2022 was justified to protect the safety and lives of the officers on scene,” Lee said in the press conference.

Lee also released a 10-page report with information that led to his conclusion. He said the detective involved in the shooting is part of the Special Operations Unit with the Jacksonville Police Department. He was with another officer in an unmarked vehicle when they saw the traffic incident happen on Hargett Street and began pursuit of the vehicle Lopez was driving. Officials said the chase reached speeds of up to 60 mph.

“Both detectives believe that Malibu (vehicle) was operating in a reckless manner and poses a substantial risk to other motorists and pedestrians in the area,” Lee said.

Lee said there were three people in the vehicle who began to flee after the crash, including Lopez. The officer involved said he clearly observed a gun in Lopez’s left hand. He told Lopez to get on the ground and then he said when Lopez began to raise the gun in his hand, the officer fired four rounds at him.

“The detective said he is trained to shoot until the individual is no longer a threat,” Lee said. “The detective said he believed Lopez was going to shoot him and the detective fires his firearm in self-defense.”

Investigators discovered a short time later Lopez’s gun was not loaded, something the officer did not know at the time.

“As tragic as this incident is, particularly for the descendants’ family, because there has been loss of life, the detective on scene was nonetheless justified in defending himself and other law enforcement officers from death or great bodily harm,” Lee said.

The officer involved in the shooting is now back at work but is not on the road, Lee said.

Lee’s findings come after a three-month investigation by the NC State Bureau of Investigation.