DA clears officers in shooting death of Scott William Muntz
Four Thomasville police officers involved in a fatal shooting last October returned to work after being cleared by the district attorney.
Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank, following an extensive review by his office and Thomasville Police Department, found that the fatal shooting of Scott William Muntz, 41, of 193 Noah's Trail, on Oct. 15 was justifiable. Officers Jamie McClanathan, Brandon Merrill, Derek Phillips and Joshua Wolfe, who all were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting, returned to active duty.
"I received and reviewed a comprehensive report last Thursday," Frank said. "I reviewed every aspect of it and all the evidentiary elements and believe the shooting was a justifiable use of deadly force."
At 6:27 p.m. on the day of the shooting, TPD responded to a welfare check at 193 Noah's Trail and found Muntz armed with a handgun threatening bodily harm to himself, according to a press release. A negotiator unsuccessfully tried to speak with Muntz and contacted other family members in an effort to resolve the situation. After hearing a shot fired from inside the mobile home, officers saw Muntz open the front door with a pistol in his hand. Muntz then walked into the front yard where officers repeatedly told him to drop the weapon and show his hands. Muntz continued loading the gun before aiming it at officers, who opened fire, striking him once. Muntz later died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
"You have to view all the circumstances and the details of the shooting itself and if there are discrepancies that lead you to question the use of deadly force," said Frank. "In this particular instance there were none. The ultimate bottom line is after repeated requests to disarm himself [Muntz] proceeded to load and aim a firearm at a number of officers within a range that they could perceive it to be a reasonable threat of bodily injury to them. Therefore the use of deadly force was justified in my opinion.”
TPD is taking steps to assist the four officers involved in the shooting.
"It's an incident that all police officers pray they will never have to go through during their entire career," Chief Jeff Insley said. "If an officer uses force and there is a loss of life, it is imperative that the incident is investigated and receives a comprehensive review by an independent source."
The State Bureau of Investigation handled the case and presented its findings to Frank's office last week. Noelle Tally, spokesperson with the N.C. Department of Justice, said her office has no comment regarding the investigation.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.