WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A white North Carolina police officer shot and killed a black passenger who refused orders not to reach for a gun after a late-night traffic stop led to a physical struggle, authorities said Saturday.
The shooting happened after Officer D.E. McGuire stopped a car containing two men and a woman about 10:30 p.m. Friday, during a routine patrol northeast of downtown, according to a Winston-Salem Police Department news release.
Edward Van McCrae, 60, was in the rear seat and began making suspicious movements, police say. McGuire told McCrae to stop reaching for concealed areas of the vehicle, but McCrae continued, according to the news release.
"After being removed from the vehicle, Mr. McCrae physically struggled with Officer McGuire and refused multiple verbal commands by Officer McGuire to 'stop reaching,'" the news release said. "As the struggle continued, a handgun became visible to Officer McGuire."
McGuire shot and killed McCrae when he refused commands not to reach for the gun, according to the release. A police report characterizes the exchange as an assault on the officer with a firearm.
The State Bureau of Investigation has been brought in to investigate the shooting, which happened in a residential area of modest homes. A spokesman for the state agency, Brent Culbertson, confirmed in an email that McGuire is white and McCrae was black.
McGuire, who has worked for the department since 2015, has been put on administrative duty pending the investigation.
The news release said that McCrae used his body camera from the beginning of the traffic stop, and he called for backup when he saw McCrae's suspicious movements. State law typically requires a judge to sign off on any public release of police body-camera footage.
Other officers arrived within seconds of the shooting and attempted to resuscitate McCrae, as did an emergency medical crew, according to authorities. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The other occupants of the car weren't injured.
Police said that McGuire had minor abrasions after the altercation.
A woman who lives near the scene of the shooting, Delphine Bias, told WGHP-TV that she heard gunshots before walking to her window to see McCrae lying on the ground.
"I heard about four or five shots, 'Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!'" she said. "So when I jumped up to run to see what was going on, I saw a gentleman laying over there on the street."