A driver of a stolen car was shot by a Cabarrus County sheriff’s deputy after crashing into two patrol cars at Poplar Tent Road and Derita Road on Thursday morning, Sheriff Brad Riley said.
Riley identified the suspect late Thursday as Joseph Jermaine Mercer of 2530 Shiloh Church Road in Davidson. Mercer, who is in his early 40s, was hospitalized in stable condition and could be released on Friday or Saturday, the sheriff said.
Charges against Mercer are forthcoming, “after further discussion with the District Attorney,” Riley said in a statement.
Riley identified the officer involved in the shooting as Deputy Matthew Pethel. Per standard protocol, Pethel is on administrative duty until the investigation is completed, the sheriff said.
The incident began at about 9:30 a.m., when a deputy was waiting for backup to arrive before stopping the stolen car on Poplar Tent Road, Riley said.
The driver of the stolen car pulled into a random driveway and stopped, according to the sheriff. Though the officer tried to delay the stop until back up was closer, “he was forced to activate his blue light and command a stop,” Riley said. The officer briefly communicated with the driver and his passenger from a short distance away, the sheriff said.
“The driver seemed very nervous and fidgety, and swiftly floored the gas to flee, leaving his passenger in the driveway,” Riley said. “A chase ensued, that ended at the intersection of Poplar Tent Road and Derita Road, where the suspect was involved in a crash with several patrol cars.”
It appears that at least two deputies left their patrol cars at some point to get the driver out of the stolen car, the sheriff said.
“The suspect used the car to crash into the patrol cars, at which on several occasions, nearly struck the deputies,” Riley’s statement said.
“As the suspect’s car was being used as a deadly weapon towards the officer(s), one deputy fired his firearm through the front glass, striking the suspect at least one time in the shoulder and neck region of his body,” the sheriff’s statement said. “The deputies immediately rendered first aid to the suspect, and Cabarrus County EMS later transported him to the hospital.”
Riley identified the passenger in the stolen car as Robert Graham of Concord. Graham, who is in his late 40s, “was very cooperative,” Riley said. “He was questioned and later released by authorities, with no charges expected at this time.”
Observer news partner WBTV said witnesses reported hearing gunshots after the chase. Three patrol cars were damaged in the incident, Cabarrus County spokesperson Kristen Bunton said.
The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation was immediately called in to investigate the incident, according to the sheriff. “No deputies were injured,” he said.
“It is apparent to the investigators that the suspect was involved in criminal activity, maybe even beyond being in a stolen car, and that he attempted to use the car as a deadly weapon that placed grave harm on the deputies’ lives,” the sheriff’s statement said. “It’s always a tragedy when someone gets hurt. We are just thankful that no one died today.”