WIMLINGTON, NC (WECT) – Officials with the District Attorney's Office held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the results of an investigation into a recent officer-involved shooting.
District Attorney Ben David led the press conference saying the actions by the officers involved in the shooting incident at Pizza Hut on October 25 were fully justified and should return to work when able.
David said his office met several times with the SBI and the Wilmington Police Department to review evidence, surveillance video and testimonies from the shooting.
After a third review, David said confidently the "officers were entirely justified under our laws in using deadly force."
According to arrest warrants, Jalani Smith, 20, Tevin Robinson, 20, and Ronald Roland, 18, held four Pizza Hut employees at gunpoint in October while they robbed the store. The warrants say the trio took $100 and two cell phones from the victims.
Police said the three men refused to comply with officers as they were leaving the business. Shots were fired and all three men were taken to the hospital. The men were found with two weapons on them.
Roland and Robinson both died as a result of their injuries during the situation with police.
Smith was arrested in connection to the crime when he was released from the hospital. He was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, and first degree kidnapping. His case was continued to December 19.
The district attorney made note during the press conference Thursday that Roland and Robinson would be facing the same charges if they were still alive.
Because Smith's case is pending, some information was withheld, but David said those details will all come out soon in the courtroom.
In his first public statement about the shootings, Chief Evangelous said officers were working with Leland Police over the past few weeks on a string of armed robbery cases.
Investigators said again Thursday they believe that Leland was looking for the same suspects and officers had multiple locations on surveillance, including the Pizza Hut.
An active investigation of the string of the armed robbery cases is still pending.
Evangelous fully supports the six officers involved in this shooting. He said they represent more than 50 years of law enforcement experience combined, ranging from the detective division and the mobile field force.
"[The officers] are fully committed to their job," explained Evangelous.
David said meeting with the parents of one of the deceased was a very difficult time. He went on to explain he will provide details of the SBI investigation to them in an effort to help provide some answers.
"I understand that they hunger for those details," explained David.
Evangelous went on to promise to the community the police department will offer every available resource to provide transparency in these cases.