Deputy cleared to return to work

W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN — A sheriff’s deputy involved in a shooting on Feb. 13 that injured a suspect in a traffic stop has been cleared by an internal investigation and has been returned to active duty.

“Based on the findings, I believe my deputy acted within office guidelines and I will be returning him to full duty on Feb. 26, said Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker.” Because there is an ongoing investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation concerning the two officers involvement in the shooting and an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Elizabethtown Police Department, I will not be making any further statements at this time.”

The incident involved Deputy D.A. Schmale Jr. and Elizabethtown police officer Blake Bryan.

At the time of the incident, Schmale made a vehicle stop and, when he learned the driver, Dennis Marshall of Elizabethtown, had an outstanding warrant for arrest, Schmale directed Marshall to step out of the vehicle and placed him under arrest. Marshall resisted arrest and was able to retrieve a handgun from inside his vehicle.

Marshall began to fire at Schmale and Bryan, who had just arrived at the scene to assist Schmale.

Both officers returned fire and subdued the defendant. Marshall was transported to and treated at Bladen County Hospital before being moved to New Hanover Memorial Hospital in Wilmington for gunshot wounds. He is now in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Correction for safekeeping and continued health care.

Neither officer was injured in the exchange of gunfire. Each was placed on paid administrative leave.

“As is standard procedure in a situation such as this, my office initiated an internal investigation to determine if our deputy followed the law and the written policy and procedure as it relates to the use of deadly force,” said McVicker. “At the completion of the investigation we convene a review board composed of members of the command staff, training unit, supervisors and an officer from an uninvolved agency.

“The investigative report is presented and the review board makes a finding of either compliance or non-compliance with departmental policy,” he added. “This board does not make any recommendations other than that. Once the review board presents their finding to me, I make my decision.”

The investigation by the SBI was initiated at the request of District Attorney Jon David.

“This is a standard procedure to have an outside agency do an independent investigation to insure transparency,” McVicker said. “I have advised Mr. David of my decision.”

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent

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