Durham County district attorney Satana Deberry this week made public letters submitted to the leaders of several Durham law enforcement agencies explaining why her office will not pursue criminal charges against their officers who fatally shot three people this year.

The documents all indicate mental disturbances were a factor in the shootings, and an alleged desire by two of the victims to die at the hands of the police. In at least one instance, substance abuse was at the center of the officer shootings that killed Stephanie Monique Wilson, Raishawn Steven Jones, and Charles Walker Piquet.

The shootings took place throughout January and involved officers with the Durham Sheriff’s Office, along with the Durham and Duke Police Departments.

The shootings were all investigated by agents with the NC State Bureau of Investigation, which is standard policy with officer-involved shootings. The SBI probe of the shootings included review of video and audio footage (including in-car cameras in deputies’ vehicles, social media recordings and text messages, law enforcement radio transmissions, autopsy photos and findings, along with law enforcement and crime scene reports related to the incident, Deberry stated in the letters to Durham sheriff Clarence Birkhead, Duke police chief John Daily, and Durham chief Patrice Andrews.

The first shooting took place on January 4 at Wilson’s Bahama home in northern Durham County, where someone called 911 to report “a breaking and entering in progress,” Deberry stated.

The caller, who was later identified as Wilson, “reported being home alone and believes someone was trying to kick in the door,” Deberry added.

In her summary of the case, Deberry stated:

Eight sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home in the 400 block of John Jones Road. One of the deputies noticed Wilson standing behind a cinderblock wall located on the right driveway near the right side of the house. One of the deputies shouted “gun” after seeing Wilson holding a black long gun that was later identified as a shotgun. The deputies took cover behind the vehicles and the deputies ordered Wilson to drop the gun. 

Sheriff’s investigators later learned that before the deputies’ arrival, Wilson had “begun a series of Facebook Live videos” inside her home. Deputies reported that she appeared agitated and can be seen loading and racking a shotgun during the video, along with moving outside the residence. She placed her mobile phone down with Facebook Live still streaming. 

“The video is fixed on the sky, but the audio continues to record,” Deberry stated, and “Wilson can be heard telling viewers that she is in a ‘standoff with police.’” 

Wilson, Deberry wrote, can be heard saying “Y’all gonna have to shoot me, dawg, make it easier on both of us” and “I’m not fixing to put this gun down.” 

Wilson repeated several times that she is not going to put the gun down. 

“However, she can also be heard telling deputies that she is not going to shoot them,” Deberry stated. 

One of the deputies reportedly “initiated verbal contact, but communication was difficult,” and another described the scene as “a lot going on at one time.” A deputy tried for several minutes to convince Wilson to put the gun down, while a sheriff’s office communications officer also spoke with the distraught woman by phone “which appeared to add to the confusion.”

The Facebook Live stream ends when Wilson says “she is upset and agitated,” but deputies had “trouble understanding why.”

The deputies reported that Wilson repeatedly lifted and pointed the shotgun at them. The final time Wilson lifted the gun, several deputies described her as taking a “shooting stance.” It was then that one of the deputies “fired a single round,” while the other deputies declined to fire their weapons. 

Wilson, whose Facebook page indicated she studied criminal justice at Shaw University and enjoyed good food, was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a May 22 letter to Durham police chief Andrews, Deberry recounts the fatal, January 12 shooting of Piquet at a Circle K store on West NC 54.

Earlier that morning, a store employee called 911 and reported that a man inside the business was attempting suicide inside the store by cutting his own throat with a broken bottle. 

Five police officers responded to the 911 call, the first to arrive at the store “radioed that he could see a man on top of the store clerk.”

The doors to the Circle K were locked and the officer “yelled several times from outside the store for Piquet to get off the clerk,” before firing “several times through the storefront glass,” Deberry stated. The officer continued yelling at Piquet from outside the store, when a second officer arrived and used a “glass breaker to break the glass on the door of the store and unlocked the door,” Deberry stated.

When the officers entered the store, Deberry stated that their body-worn cameras show Piquet on top of the store clerk. The officers ordered the troubled man to “get off her” several times and “fired multiple rounds” when he did not comply with their orders.

Paramedics pronounced Piquet dead at the scene.

An autopsy later revealed that Piquet was struck five times by police gunfire and there were “several deep lacerations to Piquet’s neck and shoulder muscles – confirming the store clerk’s account of Piquet’s self-harming behavior,” Deberry stated.

The store employee “also claimed to be shot by officers in the altercation,” Deberry stated.

The third officer shooting took place on January 14, when a Duke University police officer fatally shot Raishawn Steven Jones in the emergency room at the Duke University Medical Center.

In a June 6 letter that explained to Dailey, the Duke police chief, while her office would not seek charges, Deberry recounted the events that led to Jones’s death. It was during the afternoon of January 14 when Durham police arrived at a traffic accident. A pedestrian had been hit by a car. 

“The driver of the car was combative and determined to be impaired,” Deberry stated. “He was placed under arrest and transported to the Emergency Department at Duke University Medical Center where he was identified as Raishawn Steven Jones. Due to his arrest, level of impairment, and large size, Jones was placed in restraints inside an exam room in the Emergency Department.”

Meanwhile, a Durham police officer was assigned to guard the door of the exam room.

Deberry stated that sometime between 9:30 and 10 p.m., medical staffers removed Jones’s restraints so that he could use the bathroom. The Durham officer outside the exam room door escorted Jones to the bathroom along with a medical tech. 

The trouble began when Jones told the medical staff that if he was under arrest, he was ready to go to jail. Medical staffers responded by beginning evaluation of the patient to determine if he could be discharged. 

But during the evaluation, Jones became increasingly agitated and indicated that he wanted to leave the hospital. When he began to leave the room, medical staffers asked the Durham officer to intervene. 

The officer, Deberry stated, “asked Mr. Jones to step back into the room several times,” and he refused. When the officer used his hands to guide Jones back into the exam room and asked him to sit down, Jones again refused. When the officer attempted to handcuff Jones, footage from his body-worn camera shows Jones can be seen looking down at the police officer’s duty belt. 

“Jones then started to mumble ‘Glock. Glock,’” and the officer yelled, “Don’t go for my gun. Don’t go for my gun!” 

A struggle ensued when the patient went for the officer’s weapon holstered in his duty belt. That’s when medical staffers alerted the hospital’s Behavior Emergency Team (BET)—a group of medical staff trained to deal with patients experiencing a mental health crisis by signaling a “Red BET,” Deberry stated.

The district attorney explained that a Red BET “indicates someone has become violent or physically assaulted someone.”

By the time the two Duke police officers arrived, Jones had wrested the Durham officers’ weapon out of its holster and “was holding it in his right hand with his finger on the trigger,” Deberry stated. 

Witnesses reported that “Jones had already managed to fire one shot,” and medical staffers were yelling, “he’s going to kill the cop!” 

One of the Duke officers opened the door and fired twice in the direction of Jones. Deberry stated that Jones fell against the wall but still maintained control of the stolen weapon. The officer “fired a third time into the center mass of Jones’ body.” After a second Duke officer removed the weapon from Jones’ hand, the officer who shot him can be heard on video saying “Call a doctor. He’s shot. I shot him.” 

Medical staff entered the room to treat Jones, who later died from his injuries.

Deberry stated that evidence also showed that Jones suffered from mental and emotional impairment from PCP and marijuana when he arrived at the hospital, but she also recommended that Duke University and hospital officials “should strongly consider a policy that requires guns be stored securely before entering the emergency department.”

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Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to tmcdonald@indyweek.com.