A veteran Statesville police sergeant in a marked vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian on South Center Street near Bell Street in downtown Statesville early Saturday, authorities said.
Police identified the victim as John Cousins Jr. of Statesville, and the officer as Sgt. Scott Reed.
Reed has been placed on paid administrative leave, city spokeswoman Nancy Davis said. He has been on the force since 2004, according to his LinkedIn page.
The N.C. Highway Patrol is handling the investigation.
Cousins was hit at 12:05 a.m., police said. Iredell County EMS paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Many questions about the wreck remained unanswered. Police did not say how fast the patrol car was traveling, whether it had just left police headquarters several blocks away on South Tradd Street or whether the sergeant was responding to an emergency and had the blue lights on.
Sean Rogers, who lives nearby, told the (Statesville) Record & Landmark newspaper that he saw a man in jeans and a dark jacket begin to cross the street while holding a large umbrella. Rogers turned his attention back to working on a car when he heard a loud thump and then screeching brakes.
The N.C. Highway Patrol did not return calls seeking comment. Statesville police declined to release additional information.
Reed helps supervise the department’s road patrol and previously helped lead the department’s criminal investigations division. The department has 81 sworn officers.
“This is tragic,” Statesville city councilman Michael Johnson said. “I’m just so sorry this happened.”
Johnson said he knew of no other major traffic incidents along that stretch of South Center, which has sidewalks on both sides of the street. The intersection leads from a residential area.
Johnson said he typically avoids calling the police for details about an active investigation. “But I know this: Everyone in that police department is absolutely heartsick,” he said.