MOORESVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A Mooresville man shot by police was complying with officers’ commands when he was killed in 2020, according to a lawsuit filed in Iredell County last week.
The incident began on August 2 at a home on Heritage Place when officers responded to a reported domestic assault. The caller identified the suspect as 38-year-old Christopher Craven and said he was still on scene, possibly armed and had threatened suicide.
As officers got to the scene, they encountered Craven in the front of the home armed with a handgun. Officers were in uniform and identified themselves as police, Mooresville Police said.
Authorities said the officers gave multiple commands for Craven to show his hands. Police accused Craven of suddenly reaching for a firearm from his waist and drawing his weapon. Two officers fired at the man.
Craven was struck by gunfire and was pronounced dead on scene.
According to the lawsuit filed by Craven’s wife Amy Craven, Christopher was experiencing a mental health crisis that evening that resulted from issues with depression and anxiety. Craven had reportedly been approved for Family and Medical Leave two days before the incident.
The lawsuit alleges Christopher’s oldest daughter had placed the call to authorities, reporting that the man was threatening to commit suicide. Dispatch reportedly told the responding officers that no shots had been fired at the home.
The lawsuit said that as officers approached, Craven rose from where he sat on the front steps of his home and walked toward a camper parked in the family’s driveway.
When officers yelled for Craven to put his hands up, he complied, the lawsuit said. Officer then yelled for him to get on the ground.
When Craven began to put his hands down as ordered, the lawsuit continued, Officer Christopher Novelli “abruptly and without warning” fired more than 10 shots at close range with a “high-powered rifle.”
The lawsuit accused Officer Alexander Arndt of firing his rifle at Craven after the shooting began.
The lawsuit said Craven was hit with around 20 bullets, hitting him in the chest, abdomen, shoulder and extremities. “Numerous other rounds” reportedly struck the home where his wife and three children were located.
One bullet struck a fire extinguisher inside the house, causing it to explode, the lawsuit added.
“At no point did Chris pull out a weapon or gun at any officer, much less point it at anyone, endanger or fire any shot at officers,” the lawsuit said.
The civil suit seeks damages resulting from “negligence, gross negligence and intentional conduct of Defendants, as well as the assault, battery and wrongful death” of Craven.
In June 2021, a special prosecutor in North Carolina cleared the two Mooresville Police officers of criminal charges.
Randolph County District Attorney Andy Gregson said officers Arndt and Novelli reasonably feared for their lives when they opened fire on Craven.