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DA: Huntersville Police Justified In Fatally Shooting Armed Hospital Patient


No charges will be sought against two Huntersville police officers who shot and killed an armed hospital patient in September.

The victim, Joseph Charles Cook, had been fleeing Hurricane Irma in Florida when he began experiencing medical difficulties and checked into the Novant Health Medical Center in Huntersville.

Around 11:30 p.m. on the night of Sept. 10, a nurse and her assistant were attending to Cook in his room when he retrieved a handgun from his suitcase. The nurse and her assistant fled, and later, security guards heard shots fired, prompting the hospital to go on lockdown.

Four Huntersville police officers soon arrived and found Cook dressed in a hospital gown standing behind a nurse's desk in the hallway.

Officers ordered him to drop his weapon, but instead, officers say, he raised his gun and pointed it directly at them. Two of the officers, Travis Watts and Michael Joseph, fired simultaneously, killing Cook.

Both officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the incident, but the cameras did not capture the entire event. Two stills released by the district attorney's office appear to show Cook holding a dark object in his left hand.

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather says both officers reasonably believed they were at risk of great bodily injury or death when they fired, and thus acted within the bounds of the law.