2 Fayetteville officers on leave following shooting - WRBL

2 Fayetteville officers on leave following shooting

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

A Fayetteville Police officer shot a man during a traffic stop just after 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Chief Harold Medlock.

Medlock said Officer Phillip Burlingame stopped a car on Sourwood Drive near Lakecrest Drive at 8:05 a.m. for a traffic violation he believed to be an issue with the car's window tint.

Officer Denton Little then responded to assist. Medlock said Burlingame was frisking the driver Antoine Morrell Willis, 24, when some kind of struggle broke out.

At about the same time Medlock said a passenger, Lawrence Edward Graham III, 20, climbed over the center console and got out of the car on the driver's side with a gun.

In a statement released later on Wednesday, Fayetteville Police said, "Officer Little pursued the passenger on foot, and the passenger displayed a handgun as he turned towards the officer." Little fired three shots -- two of them hit Graham in the back, Medlock said. Graham fell to the ground several feet in front of the car.

"That individual, [Little] believed, was pointing or beginning to point the gun at him," Medlock said at the scene Wednesday morning.

Tremel Dillahunt said he heard the gunshots and a few minutes later he came out of his house down the street. He said he could see an officer with a gun drawn, yelling at a man on the ground

"[He was saying, '‘Don't move, stay down and put it down,' but I'm not sure if he had anything at the time," Dillahunt said. "The guy wasn't moving. The guy wasn't moving at all while he was laying over there."

Medlock said a gun stolen from Fayetteville -- believed to be Graham's -- was found at the scene. He said both Graham and Willis had criminal records, but he was not specific on their previous charges.

Graham was in surgery at Cape Fear Valley Regional Medical Center Wednesday morning. Medlock described his injuries as extreme, but he wasn't sure if they were life-threatening. Willis was taken into custody by Fayetteville Police. Willis is charged with the following:

  • Possession With Intent to Sell/Deliver MDMA
  • Possession With Intent to Sell/Deliver Marijuana
  • Felony Maintaining a Vehicle (Narcotics)
  • Resist, Delay, Obstruct a Law Enforcement Officer
  • Driving With a Suspended Driver's License

Medlock said the police cars' video cameras may have captured the incident. That video will be used in an internal investigation and an investigation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation. A big question the investigation may be able to explain is why Graham was shot in the back.

"When someone is dynamically moving and then when they are shot is usually two different things. From the time that bullet leaves the barrel of a gun, someone who was doing something could have been doing something else," Medlock said at the scene. "The thing I'm trying not to do with you here today is hide any of the facts from you. What I'm giving you are the facts that I know at this point, and I'm not going to suppose anything."

Both officers are on leave during those investigations Medlock said. Burlingame, 27, has been with the Fayetteville Police department since June 16, 2008. Little, 26, has been with the department since July 12, 2010.

Sourwood Drive is a short distance behind Westarea Elementary School. As a result, the school was briefly on lockdown following the shooting.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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