BOILING SPRING LAKES, NC (WECT) – Nine years have passed since Boiling Spring Lakes Police Officer, Mitchell Prince was shot and killed in the line of duty. After all these years, his family is still waiting for justice.
Family, friends, colleagues, and community members gathered on Friday to remember his life and his service to others. However, there's one piece of closure that Prince's loved ones have not received.
It was a cold January night when Officer Prince pulled over a driver on Highway 87 in Boiling Spring Lakes for what he thought would be a routine traffic stop. Prince attempted to search the driver's car and was struck from behind with a glass bottle. After a short struggle, Prince was shot three times and killed with his own gun. Now, nearly a decade later, the Prince family is still searching for justice.
Prince's mother still sheds tears hearing stories about her son. His father, James, remembers the warning he gave his son when he first became a law enforcement officer.
"I remember when Mitch decided to be a police officer," said Prince. "He came and talked to us, me and the wife, and I said absolutely not. He said, Dad, you just don't understand. I said that I understand that officers get killed."
With the American flag flying at half staff, dozens of people took time out on Friday to show that they haven't forgotten Prince's sacrifice.
"They say, you're Mitch's father? I say yes, and they tell me their stories. I still have that happen," said Prince. "He was a fantastic young man and I regret that I didn't realize it when he was with me."
The man who killed Mitch Prince, Darrell Maness was sentenced to the death penalty by a jury in 2006. However, the state's Racial Justice Act gave death row inmates like Maness one last chance at life. But last summer, that law was repealed. Now, Prince's family is still waiting for justice to be served.
"I don't want revenge. I'm not looking for revenge. Spiritually, I forgive that young man," said Prince. "But he was sentenced by the laws of this state to the death penalty and the state needs to carry it out."
The last person to actually face the death penalty in the state of North Carolina was Samuel Flippen back in 2006. There is no word yet on when Maness's sentence will be carried out.
The Prince family can't do anything except wait. But, Prince's father has one last message to pass along to other parents.
"Love your children, get to know them," said Prince. "We're not guaranteed another day."
To keep the honor of Officer Mitchell Prince alive, family and friends say they're planning a much larger memorial service for next year, the 10 year anniversary of Prince's death.
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