SBI: Raleigh police officers shot in self-defense in killing of Jaqwan Terry

Two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old Raleigh man in August were acting in self-defense, a State Bureau of Investigation review concluded.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman released the findings in a report Wednesday evening as she announced that no charges would be filed against the officers involved in the death of Jaqwan Julius Terry on Donald Ross Drive.

The shooting occurred on Aug. 29 after Raleigh police officer B.K. Burleson responded to a 911 call at 11 a.m. about a man with a gun outside a home at 241 Donald Ross Drive. The woman inside had called for help, saying that Terry, with whom she had just ended a contentious relationship, had shown up at her home with a gun.

Terry was still in the neighborhood when Burleson responded to the call, but he started to run when the officer asked to speak with him, according to the report. Burleson chased Terry, the report says, and called for backup.

“Officer Burleson indicated that he noticed Mr. Terry was running with one hand against his belly, or waistband, as if holding something at his waist,” according to Freeman’s report.

Burleson repeatedly told Terry to stop, the report states.

The chase ended after Terry cut across a yard at 311 Donald Ross Drive and came up to a fence that he tried to climb.

“When Officer Burleson caught up with Mr. Terry, Mr. Terry was attempting to jump over the fence beside the house,” the report states.

Burleson pulled Terry to the ground, and they struggled. Burleson said he noticed a gun on the ground next to Terry and tried to push him away from the weapon, according to the report. But Terry got his hands on the gun and pointed it at Burleson, leading to a shootout between the two men, the report says.

Officer B.S. Beausoleil, who had been in the neighborhood and heard the radio traffic, arrived on the scene amid the gunfire. He began firing his weapon, as well. Terry fell to the ground during the exchange, which lasted about five seconds.

Terry suffered eight gunshot wounds, according to an autopsy report, in the neck, head, abdomen, arms and leg. He was taken to WakeMed, where he died.

Burleson was shot in the leg. Investigators were not able to compare the bullet that struck him with the handgun found at the scene, according to the report, because “doctors raised concerns about the medical risks involved with removing the projectile from Burleson’s leg.”

“Based on all the evidence available, it is the conclusion of the District Attorney that Officers Burleson and Beausoleil shot Mr. Terry in self-defense and as a matter of last resort and only because they reasonably believed Officer Burleson’s life was in danger,” Freeman’s report concludes. After reviewing all the evidence and the SBI’s investigative report, Freeman “has determined that there is no basis for a criminal prosecution against the officers and has closed this matter.”

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1

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