Family of man fatally shot by N.C. deputies files complaint against department

Updated: May. 15, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV/WYFF) - The family of a man fatally shot by deputies in Rutherford County has filed a complaint against the department.

Ethan Tyler Calton, a convicted felon, was shot and killed in December during a struggle over a gun, according to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were trying to serve a felony warrant on Ethan Tyler Calton, 28, at 4:15 p.m. at a home on Edisto Drive, south of Rutherfordton, off Highway 221, according to WYFF.

The family alleges the officers arrived in “civilian clothes” and an unmarked vehicle.

According to the complaint, a witness, who reportedly was standing feet away from the deadly shooting, accused the officers of approaching Calton from behind without announcing their presence or identifying themselves as police officers and immediately exercised force to detain him.

The witness in the complaint, said that Calton had a handgun holstered on his hip and that he “had been carrying the weapon out of fear a number of officers from the Sheriff s Office intended to harm him.”

The witness said that as officers began using force to detain Calton, Calton was startled and attempted to break free and move away from the officers, and within seconds, a deputy drew his gun and fatally shot Calton.

The witness also said Calton never drew his weapon, nor did he reach for it. Rather, Rollins, in the complaint, said that after the deputy shot Calton, another deputy reached down to Calton’s body, unholstered the gun and laid the weapon on the ground beside Calton.

In the complaint, the witness said that officers didn’t administer first aid and, instead, called the sheriff.

Rollins said he saw Sheriff Chris Francis approach the officers involved with the shooting and he said to them `let’ s get our stories straight,” and they left the scene.

The complaint referenced Sheriff Francis’s press conference days after the officer-involved shooting.

Francis said the struggle Calton was making threatening statements to the deputies, according to WYFF.

“A deputy shot one round, stopping the deadly aggressive behavior of the suspect,” Francis said.

Calton died at the scene. Francis said the deputies were not injured.

“Emotionally, everyone is extremely disturbed,” he said. “This is a horrible, tragic event that none of us were looking for. Just trying to understand why Ethan decided to take this to that next level is very hard.”

Francis said the warrants on Calton were for two counts of felony identity theft, felony obtaining property by false pretense, felony first-degree burglary, felony robbery with a dangerous weapon and an order for arrest for failure to appear for felony possession of methamphetamine.

All three deputies were placed on administrative leave, per protocol. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) is investigating.

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