NC deputy shot in standoff was blue-on-blue incident

Sheriff Andy Stokes says he accidentally shot Deputy Chris Fleming after Fleming and his police dog had been shot by a man during a standoff


By John Hinton
Winston-Salem Journal

MOCKSVILLE, N.C.  Davie County Sheriff Andy Stokes says he accidentally shot Deputy Chris Fleming after Fleming and his police dog had been shot by a man during a standoff Wednesday night near Mocksville.

Stokes provided more details about the incident at a news conference Thursday in the Davie County Sheriff's Office. Nicholas Scott Tilley, 19, who lives on Cornatzer Road in Davie County, was eventually arrested Wednesday night and faces charges of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the shooting of Fleming as well as felony assault on a law-enforcement animal.

Stokes said he fired after Fleming had been shot in the face with birdshot by Tilley inside a mobile home at 201 S. Angell Road, about four miles east of Mocksville. Tilley had fired a 12-gauge shotgun at Fleming and his police dog, Gorky, a Russian shepherd, Stokes said.

Stokes said he then unintentionally shot Fleming in the right shoulder as he was trying to provide cover for Fleming and other deputies who were leaving the mobile home after Tilley started firing and creating a chaotic and dangerous situation in the home.

"I am the person who shot my own deputy last night," Stokes said.

Stokes was the only law-enforcement officer who fired his handgun in the mobile home, he said. Stokes had followed four deputies into the house in single file, he said. Stokes and his men were wearing bulletproofs, but Gorky wasn't wearing a protective vest.

Tilley shot the dog as it walked down a hall toward Tilley, the sheriff said. Fleming was hit in the face by pellets that ricocheted inside the home, Stokes said.

"(Tilley) was prepared," Stokes said. "This was an ambush. The officers could not see him (Tilley). When he saw the dog, he started shooting."

Stokes later spoke to Fleming in Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where Fleming was treated for a minor facial wound and a flesh wound in the shoulder. Stokes said he told Fleming that he had accidentally shot him.

Fleming then said to Stokes, 'Sheriff, you was just doing your job,'" Stokes said. "He understood the situation. He's (Fleming) a cop. He understood the necessity of it."

Fleming, 27, was in stable condition Thursday at Wake Forest Baptist and is expected to make a full recovery, the sheriff's office said. The dog died from his wounds at 1 a.m. Thursday at a veterinarian hospital in Mocksville. He had been with the sheriff's office for five years, Stokes said.

Gorky's actions likely saved Fleming's life, Stokes said. The sheriff's office is planning a memorial service for Gorky.

The State Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation of the incident as a shooting involving an officer, Stokes said.

The incident began around 4 p.m. when a deputy attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Tilley in connection with a home invasion that happened around New Year's Day, according to an arrest warrant.

A Davie County magistrate issued two arrest warrants that charged Tilley with first-degree burglary, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery in connection with the home invasion, court records show.

A Mocksville police officer had accused Tilley of breaking into an occupied house in the 100 block of Foster Street and assaulting the male resident there with a handgun, seriously injuring him, according to a warrant. The officer also accused Tilley of stealing two bottles containing Oxycontin and Ms Contin and $375 in cash while threatening the resident with the handgun. Both drugs are painkillers.

The deputy knew Tilley, and that deputy didn't expect any trouble from him, Stokes said.

When the deputy attempted to arrest Tilley at his home on Cornatzer Road, Tilley said to the deputy through a closed door, "OK, let me grab my coat," according to a search warrant. The deputy then saw an orange-colored Camaro quickly leaving the scene.

Tilley took at least one juvenile hostage at the home on Cornatzer Road, off U.S. 64, when he fled the scene, Stokes said. Tilley told his probation officer that he would not surrender to deputies and threatened to kill them if they confronted him, Stokes said.

Other deputies searched for Tilley and they found his car parked at 201 S. Angell Road about 90 minutes later, Stokes said.

Investigators eventually learned that Tilley was inside the mobile home with the juvenile and a young man who lives there, Stokes said.

Tilley later told the probation officer that he was holding the juvenile and the man at gunpoint and that he would not let them go, Stokes said. Tilley initially refused to speak to Stokes or his deputies.

Tilley then asked his probation officer for some cigarettes, and deputies complied, Stokes said. But Tilley wouldn't come out of the mobile home to get them.

One of Tilley's relatives arrived at the home, Stokes said, but Tilley refused his relative's request for him to surrender to the deputies. Tilley did release his two hostages in exchange for the cigarettes.

During the exchange of the cigarettes, the dog went into the mobile home, and Fleming, three other deputies and Stokes followed the dog inside. That when's the gunfire started.

After the dog and Fleming had been wounded and left the mobile home, Tilley surrendered to the deputies about 8 p.m. and was taken to the Davie County Jail.

Among the items investigators seized at the mobile home was a 12-gauge shotgun, a .308 caliber rifle with bullets, two handguns with 18 bullets and shotgun shells, according to the search warrant.

Tilley was being held Thursday in the jail with bond set at $1.8 million, Stokes said. Tilley is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 30.

Copyright 2014 Winston-Salem Journal

 


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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