Johnston County, NC – A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper who shot a suspect who was reaching for a gun during a traffic stop in April was “legally justified” to use deadly force, the district attorney’s office has determined (video below).
“Officers must often make split-second decisions regarding their use of force,” Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle told The News and Observer. “Under the circumstances observed by Sergeant J.M. Dorsey, his use of force was both reasonable and warranted.”
The harrowing encounter occurred on April 4, after Sgt. Dorsey clocked a driver traveling 97 miles per hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone.
The trooper pursued the Nissan Maxima until the driver pulled over near Princeton a moment later.
But when Sgt. Dorsey approached the passenger side of the vehicle, he noticed that the driver, later identified as 20-year-old Darius Jaquan Rogers, “appeared unusually nervous and continued to stare at the glove compartment,” Doyle said in her report.
The sergeant spoke with Rogers for a moment, then asked him for his driver’s license, dashcam footage showed.
He also told Rogers that he watched him rifling through his console as he was pulling him over, and cautioned him about doing so in the future.
“Don’t ever be diggin’ around in the console next time you’re stopped by law enforcement,” he said. “We don’t know what you’re diggin’ around for.”
At one point during the stop, the trooper gave Rogers permission to open the glovebox, but the suspect seemed hesitant.
“What’s in there?” Sgt. Dorsey asked him.
Rogers admitted he had a gun tucked inside the compartment, so the trooper calmly asked him to shut off his vehicle and to come back towards his patrol car.
But despite multiple requests, Rogers failed to comply.
“Are you not gonna turn the car off?” Sgt. Dorsey asked him at one point. “I already got your license and know who you are, so don’t think of doing nothin’ stupid.”
Rogers suddenly lunged for the glovebox with both hands, and pulled out the gun, according to the district attorney’s report.
“Don’t do it!” Sgt. Dorsey ordered repeatedly, swiftly moving away from the window as he drew his sidearm.
He yelled at Rogers to “drop it” three times, then fired three rounds through the rear passenger window of Rogers’ vehicle, striking him in the back all three times, according to the report.
Sgt. Dorsey immediately radioed for medical personnel and additional officers to respond to the scene.
“I’m sorry,” Rogers told the first responders repeatedly. “I did something stupid.”
The suspect was rushed to WakeMed hospital for treatment of his wounds, and was released just less than a week later.
Investigators recovered a BB gun with “physical characteristics similar to a Glock with no orange tip” from inside Rogers’ vehicle, according to the district attorney’s report.
No charges have been filed against Rogers, WRAL reported.
Sgt. Dorsey, a 15-year veteran-of-the-force, has been on administrative duty pending the outcome of the district attorney’s investigation.
You can watch dashcam footage of Sgt. Dorsey’s encounter with Rogers in the video below. WARNING - Graphic Content: