Local Leaders asking for transparency from the City of Salisbury after "no-knock" warrant shooting

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Salisbury community leaders say there are inconsistencies in what Salisbury police initially told them and what they see on the autopsy report of Ferguson Laurent Jr.

"The clear discrepancy is the clear account and the autopsy report. It raises disturbing questions regarding the shots fired and who fired the shots," Rev. Patrick Jones of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church said.

The shooting happened back in November when officers went to Laurent's home to serve a 'no knock' search warrant.

Police say Laurent fired a shot at them and that's when one officer returned fire.

These leaders conveying to FOX 46 Charlotte that initially they were told only 2-3 shots were fired but the autopsy report revealed Laurent was shot multiple times.

"the ten shots, we were told 2 or 3 in a meeting, this is not justifiable we fee like, to be honest, we were lied to," Rev. Latasha Wilks of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church said.

A Salisbury City Spokesperson tells FOX 46 Charlotte the city did meet with many of these leaders right after the shooting and gave them preliminary information in "the spirit of truth and transparency." In a statement the city says:

"Initial reports on the day of the shooting were that Mr. Laurent was shot two times by Officer Boehm. After further investigation on the night of the shooting, it was determined that the initial reports on the number of shots were inconclusive."

Many of the clergy in attendance continue to ask questions regarding the “no knock” warrant and if it was necessary for this situation.

"We also have concerns of the no-knock warrant, itself. The search warrant doesn't appear to reflect the necessity for this type of warrant and the manner of force including the number of shots fired from the officer or officers to execute the warrant," Rev. Bradley Taylor of Outreach Christian Ministries said.

All these questions, the city and police say will be answered once the SBI finishes its investigation.

Here is the full statement from the City of Salisbury regarding the case:

The City of Salisbury is aware that members of the Salisbury community held a news conference today regarding the autopsy of Ferguson Laurent Jr.

We have stated since November 4, that once we provided the initial, preliminary information, that we would have no further comment on this incident until the SBI concluded its investigation of this officer-involved shooting. It would be highly inappropriate for the Salisbury Police Department or the City of Salisbury to comment on an on-going investigation, particularly an investigation this important to our community.

Unfortunately, as we wait for the SBI investigation to conclude, assumptions, accusations and misinformation have been shared with the public and the news media. Multiple pages of information regarding Mr. Laurent, the officer involved, the search warrant and the items recovered from the home, were provided to members of the public and the news media from the city in the spirit of truth and transparency. The characterization that we are being secretive or not forthcoming is highly inaccurate. We continue to stand by the decision to not comment at this time until the SBI investigation is concluded.

However, there were some points made at the news conference that we would like to clarify:

1.    Initial reports on the day of the shooting were that Mr. Laurent was shot two times by Officer Boehm. After further investigation on the night of the shooting, it was determined that the initial reports on the number of shots were inconclusive. The true number of shots would be provided in the SBI report and the autopsy. This information was shared with on the City’s Rumor Control web page on the evening of November 3 and with members of the public.

2.    On the evening of the shooting, the City and the Salisbury Police Department called together members of the community, including some of the speakers at today’s news conference, to share as much information as we could regarding this incident, again in the spirit of truth and transparency. But more importantly, we recognized that tensions were beginning to rise in our community. We reached out to these individuals for outreach assistance. We answered questions to the best of our ability at that time. We also shared with the group that we could not comment further until the SBI completed its investigation. We have not met with this same group following the first meeting.

3.    The City is not “hiding behind” its Rumor Control page. This valuable tool has been employed to dispute false information that has been shared in the community. However, despite our best efforts, some of these rumors continue to exist as noted at today’s news conference.

4.  The shooting took place within the residence on E. Lafayette St. Three individuals were present in the home, including Mr. Laurent. The one known eyewitness to the Salisbury Police Department was interviewed. Any additional “eyewitnesses” were located outside of the home and would have been interviewed by the SBI following the canvas of the neighborhood that day. The Salisbury Police Department has no further information about eyewitnesses coming forward to share information.

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