WALLACE, N.C. (WNCT) — The family of a man who was killed in an officer-involved shooting back in February issued a statement Tuesday after last week’s decision by District Attorney Ernie Lee not to pursue charges against the officer.
Lee held a press conference last Friday to announce the officer-involved shooting of a Wallace man, James Lanier, in February was justified. The officer, who was not named, was put on paid leave after the shooting on Feb. 24. Lanier was shot and killed outside the Express Mini Market at 814 N. Norwood St. in Wallace around 11 p.m. Officials said Lanier was naked and disturbing customers at the time, the store owner said at the time of the incident.
Wallace police responded to the scene and reacted after Lanier pushed one officer and continued to move closer to them after repeatedly being told to back off. Lanier was tased, which appeared to have no impact on him.
As Lanier continued to approach, three shots were fired, one that hit and killed Lanier. The NC State Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate. After the SBI concluded its findings, they were presented to Lee, who then made the final call.
Below is the full press release from the family:
“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face consequences for his actions. After this past Friday’s press conference where the District Attorney released his findings following the SBI investigation our family and community are traumatized beyond measure.
“The lack of empathy and compassion shown to our family from the District Attorney’s office and the Wallace Police Department is something that we will never recover from.
“As Christians we are called to show empathy and compassion, but all we have witnessed from the District Attorney Ernie Lee and Chief James “Jimmy” Crayton was blame and demonization of our loved one, who was gunned down like an animal. James Lanier was a son, brother, uncle and friend who happened to suffer from mental illness. No one…whether black, white, or blue should be killed because they have a mental illness. We were well aware of our son’s mental illness and were not at all embarrassed by his diagnosis as the district attorney tried to portray at the hearing.
“As we mourn we find strength from the families of Walter Wallace Jr, Ricardo Muñoz, Angelo Quinto and Marcus-David Peters, all of whom, like James, suffered from mental illness, and like James were killed like prey at the hands of police officers who have sworn an oath to serve and protect.
“Join with us in our campaign for justice, accountability, and reform so that no parents will have to live through the loss and pain that we are currently enduring.
“We respectfully ask that you please keep your eyes towards justice, and our family and community in your prayers. Together we can make a difference.”
The Family of James Lanier”