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The Daily Tar Heel

Smith inquiry completed

SBI has passed case on to district attorney for review

Courtland Smith
Courtland Smith

After nearly three months, the State Bureau of Investigation has completed its inquiry into the officer who killed junior Courtland Smith on Aug. 23.

The state investigation, completed Nov. 16, was turned over to the Randolph County district attorney, who is responsible for determining if any legal action will be taken against Archdale Police Officer Jeremy Paul Flinchum.

The district attorney’s office has not yet acted.

The office refused to comment Wednesday on whether charges would be filed or on any other aspect of the investigation.

Archdale police will check the information they obtained in their own internal investigation with what the SBI found.

“It’ll help us complete our internal investigation, and that’s what we’re waiting on,” said Archdale Police Chief Darrell Gibbs. “There’s a lot we don’t know.”

The SBI indicated that its report is not public record and had no further comment other than to say it had finished the investigation.

“You do your internal, you confirm with the DA, you confirm with the SBI and you make sure everybody is on the same page,” Gibbs said.

Smith, who was the president of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, was driving west on Interstate 85 near Greensboro at about 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 23 when he called 911. While driving drunk and recklessly, Smith said he was carrying a gun and suicidal. He also asked for police assistance.

Flinchum, who police said shot Smith during a confrontation after pulling him over, was placed on paid administrative leave while the SBI looked into the shooting. He is still on paid leave.

Officer Chris Jones was also present at the scene and placed on administrative leave. He returned to active duty after it was determined that he was not involved in the shooting.

Gibbs attributed the long wait for the investigation to other priorities for the SBI, including a shooting in Winston-Salem and an inmate’s death in Guilford County.

The Randolph County district attorney would have been obligated to release tapes from police dashboard cameras that recorded part of the incident if the office decided not to pursue criminal prosecution. But Randolph County Superior Court Judge Bradford Long ordered Wednesday that rather than releasing the video immediately, he would permit a hearing on the Smith family’s motion to seal the video permanently.

The order says the hearing will take place no later than Dec. 18, and could be sooner if the court calendar permits.

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