Lenoir Police “acted properly and the use of deadly force was justified” in Tuesday’s officer-involved fatal shooting of a man in a local Wal-Mart, District Attorney David Learner said Friday.
“The officers’ decisions to use deadly force were fully justified and undoubtedly avoided injury to the officers and innocent bystanders,” Learner said in a statement.
Lenoir resident Carl Marcus Nivens, 32, a suspect in a vehicle break-in outside the store, was “actively shooting” at police Sgt. Brett Ingram, who returned fire, killing Nivens, Learner said.
Learner, district attorney for Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, said he made his conclusions after reviewing multiple video accounts of the shooting. He reviewed video surveillance from Walmart, body camera video from officers and preliminary autopsy photos.
He also reviewed preliminary toxicology screens that indicated the presence of amphetamines and methamphetamine in Nivens, Learner said. And he read the findings of the lead investigator from the State Bureau of Investigation, he said.
Learner met Friday with Lenoir Police Chief Scott Brown, Master Patrol Officer Brandon Thomas and Ingram, confirming to the officers and the department that the shooting was justified.
Nivens had pulled a .38 caliber revolver from his waist band and fired at least one shot at police, Brown said in an earlier statement.
Nivens ran from officers as they tried to question him about a possible vehicle break-in, Brown said. The store is in the 900 block of Blowing Rock Boulevard.
One officer chased Nivens while another was positioned at the entrance/exit near where Nivens was running from police, Brown said.
As he neared the exit, Nivens pulled out the gun and fired it toward police, according to the chief’s statement.
“The officer giving chase was physically struggling with Nivens during this time trying to stop him,” Brown said. “The officer staged at the entrance returned fire and struck Nivens. Nivens was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Other than minor injuries from the struggle with Nivens, no officers were hurt and no other injuries were reported, Brown said.
Officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in such shootings, and returned to duty on Friday.