BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - No charges will be filed against a State Highway Patrol trooper who fatally shot a Shallotte man during a traffic stop in January.
State Attorney General Josh Stein said in a news release Friday afternoon that evidence showed Trooper Scott Collins “acted reasonably in the face of a deadly threat” when he shot and killed 28-year-old Brandon Lovell Webster during a Jan. 1 traffic stop near the Civietown Mini-Mart on Holden Beach Road.
A prior news release from the SHP said Collins discharged his gun at Webster as he accelerated toward Collins in an attempt to flee the scene.
Cell phone video of the incident released by Stein’s office shows Collins with his gun aimed at Webster ordering him to turn his truck off.
Collins is heard shouting “cut the car off" at Webster and turning to bystanders, asking them to call 911. Collins continued to order Webster to turn the truck off, warning that he would shoot him, before Webster’s truck lurched forward and Collins fired two shots. Webster then sped away and Collins went to his patrol car to give chase.
Webster later died from his injuries after arriving at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.
Stein said after a thorough review of the case, his criminal bureau chief concluded charges against Collins were not warranted. Stein said he agreed with that decision.
“Any untimely death is always a tragedy, but the evidence does not support filing criminal charges in this case,” Stein said. “Based on the video, audio, and witness statements, we have determined that a reasonable officer in this situation would have reasonably believed that the truck, rapidly accelerating toward him, posed an imminent threat of deadly physical force. As a result, Trooper Collins’ use of force was not excessive under the circumstances."
Stein released his decision around the same time a group of Webster supporters gathered for a news conference in Shallotte. The Webster family attorney, Ira Braswell, said Webster’s mother was so distraught that she couldn’t make it to the news conference.
Members of the National Black Leadership Caucus said they are concerned with the message this sends.
“We cannot trust law enforcement. You can do all the right things and still be killed,” said Sonja Patrick, a supporter of the Webster family.
Two camera angles capture the deadly encounter: one from Civietown Mini Mart’s surveillance camera and the other from an eyewitness.
Despite the video evidence, Webster’s family, supporters, and attorney said they will continue to fight.
Rhonda Sekmet-Ra organized rallies to demand the video be released. She’s still not satisfied.
“We can’t even put words into what happened," said Sekmet-Ra. "I think what happened to Brandon and himself was bad enough but seeing the results of this investigation is even worse.”
Braswell believes Trooper Collins put himself in harm’s way.
“There is some evidence in the video showing trooper Collins jumping in front of Brandon’s vehicle a second time," said Braswell.
State Attorney General Josh Stein said the video, along with witness statements, shows Trooper Collins’ use of force was not excessive.