UNC probe of fraternity party nears completion

Staff WriterSeptember 3, 2009 

A university investigation of a party at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity on the night that its chapter president was killed by a police officer in Randolph County will probably be complete within a few days, a UNC-Chapel Hill administrator said Wednesday.

Courtland Benjamin Smith, a junior biology major from Houston, dialed 911 from his speeding SUV as it passed through Guilford County early Aug. 23 and said that he was trying to kill himself, that he was armed with a pistol and that he had been drinking.

Archdale police officers stopped him on Interstate 85, and, according to a news release from the police department, one of them shot him after a confrontation. The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation, which is routine when there is a shooting by a police officer.

Smith was 21, so he could drink legally. A spokesman for the fraternity said he had last been seen at the chapter house about 12:30 a.m. It was nearly 4-1/2 hours later that he was shot.

After Chapel Hill police contacted university officials early Aug. 23 about the possibility that something had happened to Smith, Jennifer Levering, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority life, accompanied campus police to the fraternity house. She saw evidence indicating there had been a large party with alcohol, Winston Crisp, the associate dean of students, said in an interview Wednesday.

Levering and the chairman of the Greek judicial board are handling the investigation, Crisp said, adding that that is the kind of routine check the university performs when it hears there may have been violations of laws or policies.

"This is not an investigation to determine whether something had gone on during the party that was related to Court land's death," he said.

In this case, the investigation will focus on things such as whether there was underage drinking, which would be a violation of state law, university policy and Greek policy, Crisp said.

jay.price@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4526

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