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Police shoot, kill N.C. crisis-center patient

RALEIGH - A Durham man who had been involuntarily committed to the Wake County crisis center was shot and killed by law enforcement officers early Sunday after the man fought with a sheriff’s deputy, stole his car and was tracked down and resisted arrest near I-540, sheriff’s officials said.

The deputy sheriff, Jeremy Pittman, had picked up Jonathan Lee Cunningham, 35, from the Wake County Crisis and Assessment Center at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday to take him to the Old Vineyard Hospital in Winston Salem. About 20 minutes into the trip, Cunningham tried to overpower Pittman, who stopped his car near Lake Boone Trail on I-440, according to a Wake County Sheriff’s Department statement.

The two fought outside the car, and Pittman slipped in mud, after which Cunningham entered the car and drove it away, according to sheriff’s officials. Raleigh Police Department, Morrisville Police Department, State Highway Patrol, and Wake County Sheriff’s officers chased Cunningham west on I-40 to I-540, driving faster than 80 mph at times.

As Cunningham neared Leesville, he lost control of the car, driving it off the right side of the road into the woods. He ran from the scene, but officers overtook him. “Actively resisting,” according to the Wake County sheriff’s department account, Cunningham was shot and pronounced dead at the scene.

“Deputy Matthew Johnson, who has been a member of the Sheriff’s Office since October of 2010 and Deputy Dusty Mullen, who has been a member of the Sheriff’s Office since August of 2004 have been placed on administrative duty,” the statement said.

Mullen’s role in the incident was not specified. Sheriff’s officials are referring further questions to the State Bureau of Investigation.

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