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DA clears North Carolina police chief in suspect’s shooting

July 21, 2021 GMT

NEWTON GROVE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police chief was justified in shooting a man suspected in a kidnapping and sexual assault case last month, according to a district attorney.

District Attorney Ernie Lee ruled Tuesday that Newton Grove Police Chief Greg Warren was justified in shooting Michael Almer Rich while responding to a report of a woman who had been kidnapped and raped, WRAL reported Wednesday. Authorities say Warren shot Rich three times near a convenience store June 15.

According to Lee, the shooting was justified because Warren was protecting his own life. Lee also said surveillance video and a review by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation aided in the decision.

An investigation shows the woman flagged down a person in a store parking lot, told them she was being held against her will and asked them to call for help. When Warren reached the scene, he approached the woman as she sat in a car and then went inside the store, where he encountered Rich.

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Rich walked away from Warren and toward the car when the chief asked to speak with him, the investigation said. According to investigators, Warren grabbed Rich’s shoulder and as Rich turned toward the chief, he pulled a gun out from under his shirt. When Rich pointed the gun toward Warren’s face, the chief pushed the gun away, stepped back then fired three shots at the suspect, who fell to the ground.

The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office charged Rich with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sex offense, felony breaking and entering and possession of a firearm by felon while he was in the hospital.