DA: Officers Justified In January Shootout

Apr 2, 2018

9mm semiautomatic pistol recovered from Johnathan Bennett.
Credit Mecklenburg District Attorney's Office

The officers who shot and killed Jonathan Bennett during an ambush at CMPD headquarters in January have been cleared by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office.

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said CMPD officers Jared Decker and Jeffrey Zederbaum, as well as probation officers Dwain Johnson and Jason Dzierzynski, were under fire from Bennett and were justified in using deadly force.

“A police officer – or any other person – is justified in using deadly force if he in fact believed that he or another person was in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death,” Merriweather said. “[The officers] faced an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death and were justified in returning fire.”

According to a report from the DA's office released Monday, officers were gathered for a briefing on the morning of Jan. 11 when Bennet opened fire. Several officers returned fire.

Earlier that day, police identified Bennet as the only suspect in the death of his girlfriend Brittany White. The DA’s report said at the time of the shooting, officers did not realize Bennet was the suspect in that investigation. CMPD Officer Casey Shue was the only one injured in the shootout. She was shot in the thigh and survived. The report said body-worn camera footage shows the gunfire exchange lasted 6 to 10 seconds.