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The Daily Tar Heel

Courtland Smith video will not be released

Judge rules that police dashcam should remain sealed

Courtland Smith
Courtland Smith

A Randolph County judge ruled Friday that the dashboard camera video showing Courtland Smith's interaction with police in the minutes before he was shot and killed should be permanently sealed.

Judge Brad Long ruled that the Randolph County Superior Court does not have the proper authority to allow the video's release, after ordering in September that the video be unsealed should no case be pursued against the Archdale Police Department officers involved in the shooting.

The Randolph County district attorney's office decided Dec. 4 the shooting was justified and no charges would be filed against the officer who shot Smith because he believed his and another officer's life to be endangered.

Read the judge's order

Smith, a biology major, was shot to death Aug. 23 near Greensboro by Archdale officer Jeremy Paul Flinchum, 29, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.

After Smith was pulled over, dashboard cameras recorded  the interaction between Smith and police officers before the shooting and the officers’ actions immediately after, according to the September court order. The video does not show Smith being shot.

Long ruled Sept. 29 that the video is not a public record because it was compiled by the State Board of Investigation as it reviewed the incident. But he also ruled that should the Randolph County district attorney decide not to pursue a case against the officer involved, the video will be immediately released.


In November, Smith's parents filed a motion to permanently seal the video. They argued both that the court did not have the authority to release the video and that releasing the video would be damaging to Smith's family.


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