(Carthage) - According to a release from Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger, after a review of the circumstances surrounding the use of a forced vehicle stop by North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sergeant J. Stahl on a vehicle driven by Shonquell Barrett June 29, 2018, it is concluded that the officer did not use excessive force and therefore no criminal charges will be filed against the officer.
A stop was initiated when Barrett took evasive and unlawful actions to avoid a checkpoint set up on Morganton Road in Southern Pines, NC. Upon approaching the checkpoint, Barrett abruptly stopped his vehicle and traveled in reverse away from the checkpoint. This action caused the vehicle behind Barrett to maneuver away from Barrett to avoid a collision.
Barrett continued to back up until he was blocked by an approaching vehicle. Sgt. Stahl intercepted Barrett’s car and positioned his patrol car so that the respective two front bumpers were “nose to nose”. Barrett appears to look directly at the Sgt. Stahl. Suddenly, Barrett accelerates quickly and drives around Stahl’s patrol car. Barrett turns left off Brucewood Road and westbound onto Morganton Road (away from the checkpoint). Stahl turns around and commences pursuit with lights and siren activated.
Barrett runs the red light at Beverly Lane and turns left into the parking lot of a grocery store. There are multiple cars at this intersection. Barrett proceeds through the parking lot and turns north on 15-501 which brings him back to Morganton Road. Barrett runs the red light and makes a left westbound onto Morganton Road (away from the checkpoint). There are multiple cars at this intersection as well. Morganton Road is a residential street in this area. Barrett travels westbound at a high rate of speed (Trooper Stahl calls out speeds of 82 mph) and straddles the lane marker. Barrett turns left onto another residential street, Monticello Drive, without yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic. The speed limit in this neighborhood is posted 25 MPH.
Barrett continues to speed excessively and displays problems maintaining lane control. He goes left of center, forcing an oncoming vehicle onto the shoulder of the road. At times traveling over 60 MPH Barrett runs two stop signs and continues to go left of center. As Barrett turns left onto Blake Boulevard, he goes completely left of center and drives the wrong direction in the opposite lane of travel.
At the intersection of Highway 5, Barrett again runs a red light and makes a left turn. The speed limit is 35 MPH. Trooper Stahl calls out Barrett’s speed as 75 MPH. Twice, Barrett crosses the double yellow line in order to pass vehicles in front of him. Barrett turns right onto Sandpit Road. He accelerates to pass a car. He goes left of center. Trooper Stahl is advised by dispatch that the vehicle registration comes back to a female.
Approaching the intersection of Roseland Road, Barrett sharply cuts through a gas station and passes by the gas pumps. There is a vehicle at the pumps at this time. On Roseland Road, Barrett encounters multiple other vehicles. As Barrett continues to flee from Sgt. Stahl, he appears to be moving around inside the car and continues to fail to maintain lane control.
Barrett makes an abrupt turn onto Batchelor Farm road, striking the shoulder and going left of center. He turns south onto US 1 and brakes hard, almost causing a collision with Sgt. Stahl. Barrett then quickly accelerates past another vehicle, brakes hard again, and does a u-turn to head north onto US 1. The commercial districts of Aberdeen and Southern Pines are approximately 1 ½ miles away. These portions of US 1 contain many restaurants and businesses, and are heavily traveled, especially on a Friday night. There is also a significant pedestrian presence in the commercial district.
Continuing northbound at speeds over 80 MPH, Barrett encounters at least three other police cars with lights and sirens activated. As Barrett closes in on the busy commercial district, he shows no sign of slowing down or stopping.
Within a mile of the intersection of US Highway 1 and US 15-501, Barrett is still speeding over 80 MPH. At that speed and distance, Barrett is less than one minute away from the commercial district. Other officers are unable to deploy stop sticks before Barrett passes them. Sgt. Stahl utilizes the forced vehicle stop. Barrett’s vehicle breaks traction and he loses control of the vehicle, striking a utility pole and a tree. Stahl exits his patrol car and approaches Barrett. Barrett is removed from the vehicle, and Stahl begins CPR. These life saving measures were unsuccessful, and Barrett is determined to be deceased.
Barrett’s vehicle was searched by the State Bureau of Investigation. Among other things, the following items were seized: (1) a black handgun holster; (2) clear plastic bag containing Alprazolam; (3) clear plastic bag containing powdered Oxycodone (4) a Glock .40 handgun magazine with three Winchester rounds and holster; (5) marijuana in a plastic bag; (6) marijuana smoking pipe; (7) pill bottle with no label, (8) unidentified pills in a plastic bag, (9) two cell phones and (10) $1978.00.
On July 2, 2018, a Glock. 40 pistol was found in the grass at the intersection where Barrett first evaded Sgt. Stahl. An ATF trace was conducted on the gun. Additional investigation revealed that the owner of the Glock. 40 gave it to Barrett 2-3 weeks prior to this incident. DNA testing on the Glock indicated that major DNA contributor was Shonquell Barrett.
It was determined that the vehicle Barrett was operating was registered to his mother, Charlene Ross. According to NC DMV records, Ms. Ross resides at 235 Meadowfield Circle, Aberdeen, NC. Ms. Ross indicated to the media that she was on the phone with Barrett while he was fleeing from the trooper. Ms. Ross initially confirmed this information with the State Bureau of Investigation, during a phone interview. Because Barrett was operating Ms. Ross’ vehicle and because Ms. Ross indicated that she was on the phone with Barrett as he fled from the police, a formal interview with Ms. Ross and the State Bureau of Investigation was arranged. Subsequently Ms. Ross’ attorney cancelled the interview.
This use of force review was guided by the factors outlined in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) and Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989): (1) the imminent threat of serious physical harm to the officer or others; (2) the degree to which the situation is tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving; (3) the nature of the crime at issue; and (4) whether the subject is resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. Considering these factors and the circumstances of this situation as outlined above, it cannot be concluded that Sgt. Stahl used excessive force in utilizing a forced vehicle stop. Therefore, no criminal charges will be pursued against Sgt. Stahl