WALLACE, N.C. (WNCT) –– Nationally renowned attorney Ben Crump has been retained to represent the family of James Lanier, the Black man killed in an incident with Wallace police back in February.
Crump, a civil rights and personal injury lawyer, will be joined by attorney Dawn Blagrove with Emancipate NC and attorney Kenneth Abbarno, according to a release from Ben Crump’s office and BenCrump.com.
On May 20, District Attorney Ernie Lee said in a morning press conference that the officer-involved shooting was justified. Lanier, was shot and killed outside the Express Mini Market at 814 N. Norwood St. in Wallace around 11 p.m. on Feb. 24. He was naked and disturbing customers at the time, the store owner said at the time of the incident.
Officers who responded to the scene tried to get Lanier to stop. Lanier pushed one officer and continued to move closer after being repeatedly told to back off. That officer tased Lanier but it appeared to have no impact on him. Lanier continued to advance the officer and three shots were fired, one of which hit and killed Lanier.
“As tragic as this incident is with the loss of life, there is no evidence the officer who fired the fatal shot acted in any manner that is inconsistent with the threat he perceived,” Lee said during the press conference. “And certainly no evidence the officer acted in any way contrary or in violation of the North Carolina law.”
Attorney Crump released the following statement:
“These instances of mental health crises happen throughout the nation every day and police continue to shoot down our brothers and sisters instead of providing them help. This man should have been detained and taken to the hospital, not tased and shot. We demand that Wallace police operate with transparency and release any and all video footage to the public and the family’s attorneys.”