DA: Gastonia officer will not face charges after ‘accidental shooting’ of woman

DA: Gastonia officer will not face charges after ‘accidental shooting’ of woman
The scene of an officer-involved shooting in Gastonia on July 8. (Bria Bell)

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - An officer with the Gastonia Police Department will not face charges in connection with a July shooting that sent a woman to the hospital, according to District Attorney Locke Bell.

The shooting happened on July 8 on the 400 block of S. Gray Street. Officials said at the time officers were responding to a noise complaint and were looking for Jarvis Lynn - who they said had a pistol - in the area.

According to the DA's Office, Officer Stephen Whisnant called out to Lynn but he ran from the officer toward the back of the house and then inside. Officer Whisnant followed Lynn and saw him go in to the home.

Just before going into the home, the DA's release states body camera footage shows Lynn pause at the door "with his hands in the front of his pants and [he] appears to be holding something." He refused the officer's commands to show his hands and went inside, the release states.

"At the time the shot was fired Mr. Lynn had entered the house and the door had closed behind him," the report states. "It was an accidental discharge which appears to have happened as the officer was running and reaching for the storm door."

The release states the officer's shot went through the storm door and the back door, striking Lynn's sister who was inside the home.

At the scene on the night of the shooting, the Gastonia Police Department stated the shot was fired when officers felt threatened and that the woman was not the intended target.

The woman was taken to CaroMont Regional Medical Center and was released from the hospital the same evening.

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation investigated the shooting.

Officer Whisnant was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the SBI investigation, which is standard practice, and will remain on administrative leave until the internal investigation is complete.

“Now that the DA has provided us with his finding, we can begin finalizing the PD’s internal investigation,” said Police Chief Robert Helton.

Jarvis Lynn was arrested the night of the shooting and charged with refusing to follow officer’s commands, assault, breaking and entering, larceny, and damaging property. He has since been charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

Jarvis Lynn
Jarvis Lynn (Gastonia Police Department)

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