Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather says his office will not be seeking charges against two Huntersville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man in January, according to a new report released Monday.
According to Merriweather's office, Sergeant John Allen and Officer Travis Watts acted in self-defense when they fatally shot 42-year-old Joseph Cephus Hilton V Jan. 13.
The report said the incident occurred when officers were called to Hilton’s home because of a domestic assault complaint made by his girlfriend. Allen and Watts were accompanied by three other officers. When the officers arrived at the home, they found Hilton’s girlfriend on the front porch with injuries to her face.
The woman told officers that Hilton was upstairs and that she believed him to be suicidal. According to district attorney's report, the woman told officers that Hilton had recently lost money gambling. The woman then told officers to “be armed because [Hilton] would be armed.”
Four of the five officers then went upstairs and found Hilton in the master bedroom lying on his stomach in the bed. Officers said when they tried to arrest Hilton, he sat up with a semi-automatic firearm in his right hand pointed at one of the other officers. Allen and Watts said they believed Hilton to be an imminent threat and fired at him out of self-defense, according to Merriweather’s report. The autopsy report shows Hilton sustained 17 gunshot wounds all over his body.
According to the report, Hilton had blood alcohol content level of 0.17.
Three of the officers present were wearing body-worn cameras that recorded the incident and their conversation with Hilton’s girlfriend. But, according to Merriweather, neither Hilton’s right hand nor the firearm were visible in the body camera footage.
The report said there’s no evidence that Hilton ever fired his firearm, but a handgun matching the description of officers was found on the floor under Hilton’s right hand.