A Highway Patrol trooper and a Johnston County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an armed woman who had crashed her SUV on Interstate 40 last month will not face criminal charges.
Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle made the announcement Friday, when she also released dash-camera video footage.
The video shows Tina Renee Medlin, 50, firing at the law enforcement officers before they returned gunfire. Medlin was struck in the head and arm.
“Under the circumstances observed by Trooper (Jonathan) Taylor and Deputy (Taylor) Davis, their use of deadly force was both reasonable and warranted,” Doyle said in a statement.
Doyle obtained a court order Wednesday to make public a copy of trooper Taylor’s dash camera video that recorded the events leading up to the shooting and the exchange of gunfire.
“The State believes that it is necessary to release the video in conjunction with the District Attorney’s findings regarding the officers’ use of force to fully explain the officers’ actions on July 8, 2017,” Doyle stated in a motion filed in Johnston County Superior Court. “The release of this video is necessary to advance a compelling public interest.”
Doyle recounted the events that led to the exchange of gunfire in the news release Friday.
On the morning of Saturday, July 8, emergency dispatchers at the Johnston County Emergency Communications Centers received “numerous” 911 calls from motorists who reported seeing a white SUV speeding in the westbound lanes of I-40. Some of the callers said the GMC Yukon XL was going as fast as 120 mph and driving erratically.
Emergency dispatchers also received calls from motorists who said the SUV had wrecked near Benson and a woman was lying in the grass on the shoulder of the roadway.
One witness told a 911 dispatcher he saw Medlin get out of the wrecked vehicle from the driver’s side and lay down on the grass.
The witness came over to see if the woman was OK, and Medlin reportedly got up and yelled, “I wish I would have just killed myself!”
Medlin then retrieved a gun from the SUV and told the man it was loaded, according to Doyle. A dispatcher told the motorist to leave the scene for safety reasons, and the man said Medlin had put the gun into her waistband and laid down on the ground in front of the wrecked SUV.
The motorist then left, Doyle said.
When Davis and Taylor arrived, they saw Medlin lying face down on the ground. A female motorist was also at the crash trying to approach Medlin, but Taylor told the woman to get back.
Medlin stood up and the officers saw that Medlin had a gun along with a pair of handcuffs in her waistband. They ordered several times for Medlin to show them her hands. The drew their weapons and continued to give commands to Medlin, who turned away and yelled, “That’s not my car!”
Medlin began reaching into her back waistband, and Taylor yelled, “Don’t draw it!”
Medlin had the gun in her hand when she turned around and fired at Taylor and Davis. The officers returned fire, and Medlin fell to the ground. She died at WakeMed in Raleigh on July 11.
Agents with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation, which is standard procedure when an officer discharges his or her service weapon.