NASHVILLE, N.C.(WNCN) — “I gotta move. I’m gonna die.”
That’s what Nash County Sheriff’s Deputy Shelby Smith said was running through her head when she said a Florida man fired his gun at her and her partner.
Smith took the stand to testify against Jarred Ford and while police footage captured the encounter, it failed to show the accused shooter firing his weapon. Ford is charged with firing at Smith and her partner, deputy William Toney, when he was pulled over for a traffic stop along Interstate 95 in Nash County in February 2021.
“It completely changed my life,” Smith said in court. “I lost a partner. He can’t work anymore.”
On the witness stand, Smith said she saw Ford driving erratically — speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and following too closely to other vehicles. It’s then she decided to pull him over.
As she approached his vehicle, Smith told jurors, “I smelled what I believe to be the odor of marijuana.”
Smith said she told Ford she would write him a warning for his erratic driving. Rather than bring up the smell of marijuana to Ford, she called Toney to meet her for a probable search of the vehicle.
Smith testified she asked Ford to get out of the vehicle so she could write him a warning ticket. She told jurors she notices Ford’s left side was stiff stirring suspicion that he may be concealing a weapon. Smith claimed Ford refused a pat down and refused to show his waistband to ensure there was no weapon.
Smith said she relayed Ford’s information to dispatch and she began to write the warning ticket.
“If something happens, at least they’ll know,” she explained to jurors.
Smith said when Toney arrived, she briefed him on the situation and her suspicions of a weapon.
“I warned Toney, just be ready,” Smith told jurors. As the two confronted Ford about a probable cause search of the vehicle, Smith testified that she and Toney began to struggle while attempting to detain Ford.
Smith said “the fight was on.”
In court, Smith testified Ford got free of her and while Toney was still holding onto Ford, the defendant started shooting at her partner. Smith testified she and Toney ran back to seek cover behind her patrol vehicle.
“Mr. Ford was trying to kill my partner. Mr. Ford was trying to kill me,” Smith said as she explained to the jury why she began to fire her own weapon back at Ford.
The state introduced body cam and dashcam footage of this encounter. On the dashcam, we were able to see that as the deputies went to restrain Ford, the three started to tussle. That footage shows all three go out of frame. While they are out of frame, you can hear shots fired before Toney reappears bloodied.
Smith testified that Ford had pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Toney.
While Smith wore a body cam, the state said it ran out of battery during their encounter with Ford. Jurors were able to see the footage from her camera up until it ran out of battery.
Toney’s body camera had enough battery but because of the physical altercation with the suspect, you don’t see Ford fire his weapon. His camera captured video of his bloodied arm. In the video, he can be heard telling Smith he was shot in the arm and hip.
Ford is representing himself in his trial with the state. He represented himself in federal court where he was found guilty of the federal gun charges. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.