The Harnett County Sheriff’s office finally explained as much as they were going to explain for the time being:
According to authorities, “a confrontation with an individual resulted in a shooting.” The person involved in the confrontation was pronounced dead at the scene, while the deputy received minor injuries.
That’s code for “one of our guys shot and killed” some poor sucker. And they added this:
Harnett County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Kehagias was involved in the shooting incident, according to Maj. Jeff Huber. Kehagias has been employed as a deputy sheriff since July 2013 and is currently assigned to the patrol division.
That’s code for Kehagias was the killer. But they didn’t have much to say about how Deputy “Involved” ended up in a “shooting incident.” Clayton Carroll, the roommate of John Livingston, who might best be described as the person into whom a bullet was fired, was more forthcoming:
Carroll says sheriff’s deputies knocked on their door around 3:30 a.m.
Carroll said they were looking for someone that no longer lived there. When deputies asked Livingston if they could search the trailer, Livingston said “not without a search warrant,” according to Carroll.
Livingston then closed the door.
In the fantasy world of law, this is where the police, having no search warrant, would shrug and walk away, muttering to themselves that the law precludes their doing anything further without a warrant. This is the fantasy world upon which courts base their decisions, craft the rules of engagement and pontificate about the high-minded professionalism of law enforcement that would never deliberately and flagrantly ignore law and do whatever the hell they please.
But Clayton Carroll wasn’t done yet with his story.
“The cop kicked in the door, got on top of him, started slinging him around beat him…” Carroll said.
Carroll said sheriff’s deputies then started spraying mace on Livingston and using the Taser, according to the roommate.
Witnesses said Livingston was not fighting back and was trying to get the Taser out of the deputy’s hands.
The incident eventually continued outside.
There is no detail of how Livingston went from inside his home to outside his home. Perhaps he said to Deputy Kehagias, “time out a second there, Deputy. Let’s just step outside and discuss this like gentlemen.” Except he was probably disinclined to chat at that moment, what with the Taser zapping him and all.
“He (Livingston) barely had the Taser in his hand but he had it where it was constantly going off and the officer I guess that spoke to him rolled over there, says he got the Taser and shot him in this position,” Carroll said while on the deck outside the home demonstrating what happened.
Some will contend that by attempting to end the jolt of electricity flowing from the not-always-so-lethal Taser into his body, Livingston was asking for it. After all, when a cop kicks in your door and uses painful, and possibly lethal, force on a guy, shouldn’t he just lie back and enjoy it?
Carroll said Livingston was shot six times, while another witness in the home, Bristol Edge, said Livingston was shot at least four times.
Livingston died a short time later. Carroll said Livingston did not have a weapon.
But Deputy Kehagias had more to be concerned about than constitutional technicalities. There was the First Rule of Policing to contend with, and no way he was going to let this guy whose home he just violated get his mitts on a Taser and inflict pain on a deputy. Forget everything that went wrong up to that point, and consider that no cop is going to suffer pain as long as he’s still got bullets in his gun.
Friends of John Livingstone explain that he was a great guy, a wonderful father of three children, loving, hard-working. So what? If he was a terrible human being whose life was dedicated to slacking, he still shouldn’t be dead.
Naturally, there is a “why” to this story, as it doesn’t appear that Kehagias was another deputy using his badge to vindicate some personal feud. Which can happen, but wasn’t the case here. Here, they were “investigating”:
An unknown number of sheriff’s deputies showed up at the trailer where John Livingston and Clayton Carroll lived at 3:30 a.m., looking for someone as part of an unspecified “assault investigation.” The cops were apparently told the person they were looking for no longer lived there. According to Carroll, they asked Livingston if they could enter the trailer. Not without a warrant, said Livingston, who then closed the door on the cops.
There is, of course, the view of law enforcement just doing their job, trying to find some bad dude, and asking Livingstone to demonstrate some civic virtue to letting the cops into his home, “just to be sure.” After all, why would he refuse if he had nothing to hide?
But he had nothing to hide. He was just a guy who did what the courts say he’s absolutely entitled to do, say “not without a warrant.” Of course, the exercise of a constitutional right is supposed to happen without a penalty in theoretical jurisprudence, the stuff upon which rules are based.
This is much like the courts’ vision of Terry stops, where a person for whom no reasonable suspicion exists is entitled to say nothing, turn his back on the police and walk away unscathed. Try it. See how that works for you.
But the protection of the home from entry by police is usually spoken in hushed terms by judges, because it’s sacred. The sanctity of the home is the most protected, most respected aspect of Fourth Amendment protection.
Unless some cop decides to kick in the door anyway. Then you end up dead. There is no rule of law that explains this eventuality, but then, there doesn’t need to be because the law says this just can’t happen.