Two days after the family of Willard Scott Jr. demanded answers in the thirty-one-year-old’s death, an autopsy report has been released showing he was shot in the back by a highway patrolman.
Scott was killed February 12 after Trooper Jerimy Mathis attempted to pull him over on Duke Street for driving erratically. The trooper pursued Scott’s vehicle and when Scott got out of the car and ran, Mathis chased him on foot before firing at Scott. A gun that did not belong to the Highway Patrol was found at the scene.
The autopsy shows Scott was shot in the left lower back and the right buttock. The report says he suffered “a major aortic injury with massive blood loss” and died during an operation.
The Durham NAACP, in a statement on behalf of Scott’s family, says the news that Scott had been shot in the back multiple times confirms “our worst fears.”
“While today’s autopsy provides us with some answers about what happened the evening that NC Highway Patrolman Jeremy Mathis killed Willard Scott, the answers lead to even more questions,” the statement says.
Through the Durham NAACP, the family continued its call for a thorough and transparent investigation of the shooting, the release any relevant video, audio or other documents to the family, and for the state Highway Patrol to train troopers in de-escalation.
“We must have accountability of the actions of law enforcement officers,” the statement says. “Accountability is the only way to stop these killings all across the country. As long as officers are being let off the hook in each case, the next officer will think they can get away with it too.”
Scott’s family members gathered Saturday at the Durham County court house to ask for the release of the autopsy after weeks of organizing call-ins to the medical examiner’s office. They said they were not told why the exam took more than one hundred and forty days to be released, only that it would be released “soon.”
“My baby is gone,” said Scott’s mother, Thomasine Hinson. “What can be done to honor Junior? We have one simple request: Justice.”