WPD releases recordings from a chase that ended in the death of an officer

Reported by Lynda Figueredo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department has released dash camera video recordings in connection to the death of Officer Richard Matthews.

The police department released seven DVD recordings taken from the Mobile Digital Video Recorders (MDVR) from the vehicles involved in the chase that ended in the arrest of three people accused of drug related charges.

The recordings also show the moments before and after Matthews' fatal crash.

The video shows Matthews' swerved to avoid a box in the road on Shipyard Boulevard.  He was on his way to serve as backup to assist another patrol officer that was pursuing three people who threw bags of marijuana out of a GMC Yukon.

District Attorney Ben David said the videos were released after a Superior Court judge decided that it would not infringe on a fair trial for the three men accused in the case.

The SBI and WPD will present their case against the three men in front of a Grand Jury Monday, March 9, where additional charges may be presented.

*Note: The videos to the right are not in their entirety out of respect to the Wilmington Police Department and Matthews' family.

Below is a statement released from Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous to employees of the Wilmington Police Department in regards to the release of dash camera recordings in connection to the death of Officer Richard Matthews.

As the result of a civil law suit filed against the department by the Wilmington Star-News we will be releasing tapes from the mobile digital video recorders (MDVRs) from the vehicles involved in the pursuit on Wednesday, February 18, 2008, as well as from the vehicles that responded to Officer Matthews' crash.

The Wilmington Police Department has a proven record of complying with requests for public information. We have gone above and beyond what the law requires by making incident and accident reports available online. We routinely release detailed information on high-profile incidents, sometimes even before local news organizations are aware that the incidents have occurred.

All that this agency asked of the Star-News was to be patient while all the material was reviewed and documented as part of the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations.

Ideally, the members of this Police Department would have more time to reach closure and begin the healing process before being subjected to constant replaying of videotapes from the events of February 18th. But we are releasing the tapes today to end the pointless controversy.

The civil suit attempted to compel the department to immediately release any MDVR recording when requested by the media. This portion of the suit was not ruled on due to the department releasing these recordings. We will vigorously defend the department's prerogative to make the decision about releasing of any recordings based upon the merit of a specific incident.

The entire incident is still being reviewed by the District Attorney, and to assure the public that this investigation is conducted in an unbiased manner, the State Bureau of Investigation has been asked to review the entire investigation and provide their input into this case.

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