Wilmington officers arrest gunman, avoid tragic ending

Updated: Jun. 2, 2020 at 7:57 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -As the nation grapples with reports of police brutality and the use of excessive force, the Wilmington Police Department is trying to shine a light on recent situations that don’t generally make headlines.

Sunday afternoon, an officer in the area of Princess Place Drive encountered a man standing in the road with a gun. Police say the man was under the influence and shotspotter alerts confirm he had fired several rounds into the air.

When officers approached him, he threw the gun to the ground. Though he didn’t have a weapon in his hand, he was not listening to commands from police and was approaching officers.

The officers had just seconds to decide how they would react; one police officer had a gun drawn, the other was armed with a taser.

The taser was deployed and they were able to arrest him. Once police had him in custody, they found the suspect’s one-year-old daughter in the back of his car. She had witnessed the entire thing.

Captain Matt Ingram with the Wilmington Police Department says his officers encounter situations like the Princess Place situation often. In fact, police responded to 19 firearm related incidents last month alone. All of those calls came to a close without the use of excessive force.

“What makes news is when it doesn’t go well, but what’s important is to know we understand the appropriate level of force, the appropriate level of the application of the law," said Captain Ingram.

Ingram says annual use of force training for the department and their brand new simulator are reasons why he believes his officers are prepared.

“They learn how to operate with that higher level of adrenaline and higher raised heart rate and when they interact with people in an actual situation they’ve already experienced some of this; they already have some of that inoculation and they operate better across the board,” said Ingram.

In addition to training, there are accountability measures for WPD’s officers. Each scenario that involves physical contact with suspects outside of an officer handcuffing them requires a use of force report. That report is reviewed by a supervisor and sent to the department’s professional standard’s division.

Police officials say if you ever experience an issue with an officer, they want to hear from you. They take complaints very seriously and they’re tracked by their professional standards division.

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