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Nash deputies cleared in man’s fatal shooting

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Rocky Mount Telegram

Friday, May 17, 2019

The three Nash County deputies who were involved in the Feb. 9 shooting of 28-year-old Jonathan Ramirez will not face charges in connection with the incident, according to a statement released on Wednesday by District Attorney Robert Evans.

After a request by the Rocky Mount Telegram concerning the status of the investigation, Heather Nicol, administrative assistant to Evans who represents the 8th Prosecutorial District in North Carolina, issued a one-sentence statement concerning the decision.

“Today we informed the Ramirez family, the SBI and the Nash County Sheriff’s Office that the DA’s office will not be pursuing criminal charges as a result of the death of Mr. Ramirez on Feb. 9, 2019,” Nicol said.

Ramirez was killed in the early hours of Feb.9 after a caller reported an attempted sexual assault and identified Ramirez as the the suspect. Deputies followed Ramirez to his home on on the 1200 block of Maudis Road in Bailey where they confronted him as he left his vehicle. He allegedly pulled a weapon from the back seat of his car, forcing deputies to defend themselves, according to earlier statements by Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone.

The DA’s office did not expand on the basis of the decision to clear the deputies of wrongdoing. The office also would not release the report from the SBI concerning the incident, despite repeated requests. The SBI said the report has to be obtained from the District Attorney’s office.

“Our investigation has been completed and the case file has been given to the DA, who will make a decision regarding any potential charges,” Anjanette Grube, public information director for the SBI said in an email earlier this week.

Stone said he agrees with the decision. Sgt John Winstead, Deputy Stan Ricks and Detective Taylor Neal of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office were placed on administrative leave after the shooting. But these deputies, Stone said, have been back to work for more than 30 days.

“We did our own internal investigation and determined that these officers did not violate any regulations and handled the situation properly,” Stone said.

Stone said it would have been better if the officers had turned on their body cameras before the incident, but said he considers that more of a technology issue than a failure on the part of his deputies. The body camera videos were released on March 10, but revealed little as none of the officers involved in the shooting had their body cameras on.

“These cameras have to be turned on manually,” Stone said. “When you are in a situation like this where a gun is being pointed at you and you are trying to protect your life and the life of those around you, you are grabbing weapons and equipment. You are not thinking about your body camera. Hopefully, technology will catch up and provide a way for these cameras to turn on automatically.”

Stone said he had nothing to do with the failure to release the SBI’s investigative report but understands the reasons for the decision.

“I don’t know what is in the complete report, but a lot of times people don’t understand these reports unless they have an expert on hand to explain them,” Stone said. “I am sure the DA and the SBI made the decision they felt was right.”

Stone said he was glad the investigation is complete even though the effects of the incident remain.

“My heart goes out to the family,” Stone said. “And these officers will still have to live with the pain of taking a human life. But I appreciate the patience of Nash County residents during this investigation. My deputies will continue to serve the community with honor, compassion and diligence.”

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