SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The family of Jordan Mays, who was shot and killed in a deputy-involved shooting in Rowan County, have said they want to see what authorities saw Tuesday afternoon that led to his death.

Five SOCAT deputies received a tip that Jeremy Buck, and Mays, 28, were seen at an address on Thriftwood Avenue in Salisbury. 

Both men had several warrants out for their arrests. 

Jordan Mays was on the ’10 most wanted list’ by local state probation. He had failed to appear warrants for carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a firearm by a felon, driving while his license was revoked, and a probation violation.

Deputies arrived at the house around 5:00 p.m. with “clear” signs they were law enforcement. 

Sheriff Travis Allen said that officers created a perimeter around the trailer and tried for several minutes to get both individuals to surrender.

“A woman came out and was cordial with deputies but kept saying the men were not there,” said Sheriff Allen.

Deputies found Buck hidden in a shed outside the house and arrested him quickly; he was not armed. The woman then confirmed that Mays was in a back bedroom but had probably run away due to the commotion. 

Sheriff Allen said that, in accordance with their training, deputies could use more verbal commands to get Mays to exit but said they were ignored.

At that point, they entered the trailer. 

“The deputies moved systematically throughout the trailer, clearing the living room, the kitchen, the hallway, and the whole time they’re giving commands for Mays to exit,” Sheriff Allen explained. 

While he was not there, he said this is what was captured by police body cameras. 

In a news release of the timeline of what followed next, the sheriff said:

Deputies also announced their presence as they approached the bedroom door. They announced their presence as Deputies as they entered the room. 

Immediately upon entry of the bedroom, they come in contact with Jordan Mays, who is on the bed with a female. Beside the bed on a desk/table is a visible handgun within reach of the offender. The firearm is less than 3 feet from Mr. Mays and easily within his reach. The Deputies challenged Jordan Mays numerous times and gave him commands to not reach for the gun and for him to show them his hands. 

Body camera video shows Deputy Adam Dyles going hands-on with Jordan Mays. Deputy Dyles struggles with Mays on the bed and then into the floor of the small bedroom, trying to secure Mays’ hands. Deputy Chase Safrit is also attempting to get to Jordan Mays but is hindered by the size of the small room and clutter around the bed. Deputy Travis James is positioned just inside the bedroom door covering the two other Deputies with his AR 15 Rifle as they try to subdue Jordan Mays. At this time, one of the Deputies yells for one of the others to “Tase him.” Upon hearing this, Jordan Mays is able to come up off the floor/bed with Deputy Dyles still on his back. 

Jordan Mays turns toward the bed and dresser and retrieves the firearm that is believed to have been on the desk beside the bed. He does so with Deputy Dyles still fully engaged with him. Deputy James, who is providing cover for Deputy Dyles and Safrit sees the gun in the hand of Jordan Mays and announces “gun” several times. As Jordan Mays is turning around on the Deputies with the firearm in his hand, Deputy James fires what is believed to be five rounds from his AR-15 at close range, striking Jordan Mays in the head with at least one of those rounds. The round was fatal.” 

Queen City News spoke with Mays’ cousin, Whitney, Thursday evening after the police narrative was released. 

Whitney said the family had been kept in the dark with a lot of information due to the SBI investigating the shooting. 

However, their information on what happened has been from Mays’ girlfriend, who was in the room when this happened. 

Whitney said the two had been asleep and were not aware deputies were there until they entered the bedroom. 

“It makes us all sick to our stomach,” Whitney said. “But to think if you’re lying in a bed and you’re asleep and then just bam, there, there in your jerked off the bed. And even the reports say within 15 seconds, he was dead. So it just goes from he’s woken up to there’s a struggle.”

She said that the encounter with law enforcement happened incredibly fast but did not see Mays grab hold of the handgun. 

“He tried to run, tried to get away, was pushing through the officers, and that he did not grab the gun,” Whitney said. “We do understand that if an officer needs to protect himself because a gun is being pointed at him, we understand that. But if there was no gun in his hand, why couldn’t three officers restrain one?” 

“The SBI discovered another firearm in the bed mattress,” Sheriff Allen said. “They believe that’s what he was trying to look for.”

This is the second officer-involved shooting involving a Rowan County Deputy since the sheriff was sworn in two months ago.

During these investigations, he looked at the body camera footage. He admits there are better options than the middle-of-the-chest location for the cameras, which is common practice for law enforcement officers.

He admits that, at times, they can be unintentionally obscured by the officer’s hands. 

“A lot of the time, our body cameras are on our uniform,” Sheriff Allen said. “But, anytime we present our firearms, we block that camera footage; we’re blocking our view of what the offender is doing.” 

He went on to say that, in the case of Mays, the video confirms what his deputy saw. 

However, to prevent doubt in situations like these, he plans to explore if the cameras can be placed on other body parts to get a better view of the situation.

The deputies involved have been placed on paid administrative lead pending an investigation by the SBI. 

As that happens, Mays’s family has to wait to get their answers. 

They said while they knew Mays had stumbled down a dark path in life, they still held onto hope that he would be able to come back into their lives. 

“We need to value human life, not on different levels, because this 28-year-old may have been involved in drugs, but he was still a brother, a cousin, a son,” she said. “He had a good heart, and we shouldn’t be so cruel.” 

Though he has not spoken with Mays’ cousin, Sheriff Allen told Queen City News that he felt the same way. 

“It doesn’t matter how many warrants someone has out for them; they’re still human,” Sheriff Allen said. “They’re still loved by people; they still have worth. Using deadly force is the last thing we want to do.”