Deputy faced ‘imminent threat’ before shooting, killing man accused of ramming patrol car with stolen tractor in Randolph County, district attorney says

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — A Randolph County deputy was justified in shooting and killing a man who allegedly rammed a patrol car with a stolen tractor almost one year ago, Randolph County District Attorney Andrew Gregson said Thursday.

District Attorney Andrew Gregson said that investigation by SBI was “thorough and sufficient to determine whether the use of deadly force was justified. The District Attorney has determined that no further investigation is warranted.”

While the shooting happened on Aug. 13, 2019, Gregson says the autopsy report was not released until June 26, 2020.

On Aug. 13, 2019, a family watched a chaotic scene unfold right outside of their Randolph County home.

The Jessup family woke up just before 1 a.m. Tuesday to flashing lights and sounds no one wants to hear.

“I heard some gunshots. His girlfriend was screaming and hollering and she came running out,” Reggie Jessup, Cole’s father, told FOX8.

The district attorney says it was 12:43 a.m. when Deputy Sgt. Adam Hicks tried to pull over a mowing tractor that was being driven with lights off in the middle of Joe Branson Road.

The deputy turned on his patrol car’s blue lights and siren, but the tractor reportedly kept going. The tractor drove off the road and into a yard and field before getting back onto the road.

The district attorney says the tractor “intentionally collided” with Hicks’ patrol car multiple times during the chase.

When the deputy saw a motorcycle heading towards the tractor and patrol car, the tractor “intentionally crashed” into the car causing Hicks to lose control of the vehicle.

Hicks fired his Glock .40 caliber pistol multiple times.

Cole Jessup, 20, was hit five times.

Gregson says the autopsy shows Cole Jessup died of a .40 caliber handgun but also noted the presence of “methamphetamine intoxication.”

Investigators later discovered that the NC DOT tractor had been stolen. The tractor weighed 10,500 pounds compared to Hicks’ 4,800-pound vehicle. Hicks, however, was not injured.

The district attorney says Hicks faced “an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury from the actions of Cole Jessup. Deputy Sgt. Hicks’ application of deadly force was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.”

Cole Jessup had been out on bond for just three days for charges he was facing in Chatham County.

He was accused of fleeing to elude arrest, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and reckless driving to endanger.

In the summer of 2018, Cole Jessup was charged in Randolph County for carrying a concealed weapon and resisting officers.

At 17-years-old, in 2016, he was accused of shooting a man and was charged with Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Despite his past, his family says he didn’t deserve this.

“He was a good boy and he worked a lot and he liked to drive fast,” Reggie Jessup said. “He wasn’t but 20 years old.”

The deputy involved was placed on administrative leave as is protocol.

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