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Gastonia Police Officer Will Not Be Charged In Accidental Shooting

City of Gastonia Police Department

No charges will be filed against a Gastonia police officer involved in a shooting in July that left a woman injured.

Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell said Wednesday that Officer Stephen Whisnant discharged his gun accidentally when he shot Brittany Lynn. 

Whisnant was responding to a noise complaint at Lynn’s home on Gray St. on July 8th. Upon arriving, the Gastonia Police Department said officers found Lynn’s brother, Jarvis Lynn, holding a gun. Officers said he refused demands to drop the weapon.

In a letter to Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton on Monday, Bell said it appeared Whisnant was trying to arrest Lynn when the officer accidentally fired his gun as he was running and reaching for a storm door at the home. The shot went through the storm door and hit Brittany Lynn, Bell said. Lynn was treated and released from CaroMont Regional Medical Center the same evening.

Jarvis Lynn is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.
Credit Gaston County Sheriff's Office
Jarvis Lynn is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

Jarvis Lynn is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

The family has disputed police accounts and has called for Whisnant to be fired. The Gastonia Gazette reports Whisnant had been on the force less than 10 months prior to the shooting.

Bell’s decision not to charge Whisnant comes after an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, requested by the Gastonia Police Department.

Whisnant remains on administrative leave while the department conducts an internal investigation of the incident. 

Gastonia Deputy City Manager Todd Carpenter released the following statement:

“This was an unfortunate accident where an officer was responding to a call for service and he quickly became faced with a threatening situation. In a flurry of actions, his weapon was discharged accidentally. We are very sorry that Ms. Lynn was injured and are grateful that no one else was hurt.”