UPDATE: The District Attorney has cleared the deputy involved in the fatal shooting of Michael Scott Knibbs in April 2018. DA Greg Newman said the deputy was justified in his use of force.
"North Carolina law permits all law enforcement officers in our state to use their firearms to defend themselves and this deputy had the barrel of a shotgun pointed at his head at close range," Newman said. "He reacted in the only way that he could given the circumstances."
According to the district attorney, earlier in the evening Knibbs' neighbors were holding a cookout and one of their friends mistakenly drove onto Knibbs' property. Knibbs reportedly became aggressive after asking the person if he was there to buy pills and then kicked the man's car as he drove off.
Later, when one of the visitors was leaving the cookout, the district attorney said she couldn't leave because several boards with nails were placed in the roadway by Knibbs.
The deputy who responded to the scene identified himself, which the district attorney said was corroborated by witnesses, and as he approached the door of Knibbs' home, heard someone "rack" a round in a shotgun.
The district attorney said the deputy shouted for the person to put the weapon down at least three times before he stepped inside the door and found himself with a shotgun pointed at his upper torso or head.
The deputy backed away and began shooting through the window.
“This entire incident is a tragedy and the deputy certainly did not anticipate these events,” Newman said. "In his interview with the SBI, the deputy said that he expected this call would be simple to address. He had responded to right of way disputes before and thought this occasion would be routine. He would speak to the participants and hopefully resolve the issue. The use of his firearm is not what he intended, but he handled the situation in the only way he could."
PREVIOUSLY: One person is dead after a deputy-involved shooting Macon County early Monday morning, according to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said deputies were dispatched to an address on Pheasant Drive near Mashburn White Road about a dispute between neighbors. Deputies said the incident was regarding boards with nails placed in one of their driveways, blocking a driver from exiting.
The first deputy to arrive said he was confronted by one of the neighbors who was armed with a gun and took "aggressive action" toward the deputy. The deputy opened fire in self-defense, killing the suspect, the sheriff’s office stated.
An attorney representing the man's family identified him as Scott Knibbs.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the shooting. The sheriff’s office said additional details would be released when appropriate.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased as well as to everyone involved in the incident especially the deputy who was protecting and serving his community tonight,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook.
In a statement released by attorney Mark Melrose, Scott Knibbs was home with his wife, children and granddaughter when the shooting occurred.
According to Melrose, earlier in the evening Knibbs had told a man who pulled into his drive way looking for a neighboring house party to leave and not return. When he heard a man's voice yelling outside around midnight, he retrieved the shotgun he kept at the home for self-defense, Melrose said.
The attorney said Knibbs didn't open the front door before he was shot through a front window in the home, where he bled to death.
According to the attorney, no spiked boards were placed in the roadway despite initial reports from deputies. Instead, he said boards were placed as a speed bump in front of the Knibbs' home due to concerns about passing cars and the safety of children playing in the front yard.
Read the full statement from Melrose Law below:Mark R. Melrose and Adam R. Melrose of Melrose Law have been retained to represent the family of Scott Knibbs who was killed by a Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Scott was home with his wife, his 13 year old son, his 22 year old daughter, and his 5 month old grandson in a home they purchased 5 years ago. Earlier that evening, Scott told a man who had pulled into the Knibbs’ driveway looking for a house party next door to leave and not return. Around midnight, a man’s voice was heard yelling from the front of their home.
There was no patrol car parked outside the Knibbs home, no blue lights, and no advance warning that a rookie police officer was approaching their home. Scott was concerned for the safety of his family. Scott retrieved the shotgun he kept in the bedroom for self-defense. Scott then walked towards the front door to see who was yelling at his family’s front door.
The man yelled demands from outside on the porch. Seconds later the Deputy fired multiple shots from outside the Knibbs house, through a front window, striking Scott. Scott never had a chance to open the front door, or speak to the officer. Scott bled to death just a few steps away from the front door in his own dining room. The Deputy did not administer first-aid while he awaited backup from other officers and EMS.
Scott worked in construction, and was married to his wife, Missy, for 25 years. He had no criminal record. He had nothing but respect for law enforcement. In fact, Scott had graduated from Basic Law Enforcement Training at Southwestern Community College in the 1990’s. Scott and his family attended the Cullasaja Assembly of God for the past 25 years.
This was apparently a complaint made by the neighbors who were renting a house next door. There was a high volume of traffic going up to the neighbor’s house at all hours. Contrary to initial reports of spiked boards in the roadway, the boards were actually speed bumps placed in the common roadway to slow visitors down as they passed the Knibbs home due to the children who frequently played in the front yard.
At this time we are actively investigating the circumstances of Scott’s death. We want to understand why an unverified middle-of-the-night complaint by a neighbor resulted in a rookie officer demanding entry into the Knibbs home unannounced. We want to understand why the officer had his weapon out. We want to learn what urgency existed for a solo Deputy to “investigate” a neighbor’s complaint in the middle of the night. We want to learn why this happened when the Deputy did not have a search warrant, arrest warrant, or probable cause to enter the home or arrest anyone within the home.
We have promised the Knibbs family to learn the truth of why Scott was killed in his own home from shots fired from outside his residence by a rookie officer.On May 8, a group of people supporting Knibbs' constitutional rights said they would gather at noon to call for justice in the case.
Here is a link to a Facebook event page about the gathering.
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