Cabarrus County DA: No charges will be pressed against officer who shot and killed suspect in February

A former Concord police officer shot and killed a man who was attempting to steal a vehicle.
The Cabarrus County DA announced that no charges will be pressed against a former Concord officer who shot and killed a man in February.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 2:44 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - The Cabarrus County District Attorney will not press charges against former Concord Police officer Timothy Larson.

Larson shot and killed Brandon Combs in February. Police say Combs was attempting to steal a car from Modern Nissan in Concord.

“Combs had failed to comply with 15 different verbal commands. Officer Larson essentially used every tool he was trained to use from verbal commands, his taser, his asp baton, and he didn’t fire his duty weapon until he had no other choice,” said Cabarrus County District Attorney Roxann Vaneekhoven in an interview with WBTV.

At the time of the shooting in February, police said Larson told Combs multiple times to stop and officers say he refused, leading to a physical confrontation between the two. Larson then fired his handgun at Combs, who later died from his injuries.

Combs’s mother, Virginia Tayara, and her attorneys were shown the video of the altercation. Tayara said it shows Larson shooting her son five times before reporting the shots fired call and then shooting Combs again after.

She also said no physical altercation could be seen in the video.

Brandon Combs (left) was shot and killed by a Concord officer in February(Family Photo)
Brandon Combs (left) was shot and killed by a Concord officer in February(Family Photo)(WBTV)

Larson was later fired from the for making “untruthful” statements about the incident when interviewed by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

[Concord Police fires officer that shot and killed burglary suspect in February]

“Your continuous refusal to answer the questions that have been presented to you, despite several opportunities to do so, are detrimental to the continuity of operations of the City of Concord and the Concord Police Department,” Concord Chief of Police Gary Gacek wrote.

Tayara filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Concord Police Department and Larson. She also alleges there was excessive use of violence, assault and battery.

The lawsuit sought monetary damages and requested a trial by jury. The family and the legal team in August said they wanted the Cabarrus District Attorney’s Office to file charges against Larson.

A report obtained from Cabarrus County DA Roxann Vaneekhoven on Wednesday states that Larson acted out of “fear for his life,” and that after Larson initially approached Combs in a vehicle, Combs exited it and ran towards Larson’s police SUV and got into the driver’s seat.

The report also states that Combs was within a short distance from an assault rifle, and one of his hands was not visible to Larson. Findings also allege that Combs revved the SUV engine while Larson was near the front of the vehicle.

At that point, the DA’s report says that Larson fired five shots, as Tayara said, in rapid succession through the vehicle’s front windshield. The DA says that then Larson called in the “shots fired” call, and fired one more shot.

“It was very quick, but the engine revved and the shots were fired. The idea, or the belief that he had, that Combs was going to run him over was an imminent threat for his life and had he (Combs) gotten out of that parking lot with an AR15 assault vehicle and a police issued vehicle, it’s hard telling what could have happened,” Vaneekhoven added.

The report continues, saying that once backup arrived, the officers pulled Combs out of the vehicle and offered aid until medical personnel arrived.

Combs was taken to the hospital, where he died due to his injuries.

The District Attorney issued the following statement at the end of the report:

“In making this decision, I reviewed the SBI investigative report that contained body worn camera videos, dash cam video footage, surveillance videos inside and outside of the dealership, Officer Larson’s statement, Responding Officer statements, First Responder Statements, Crime scene photos and reports, and other documents contained in the full investigative file. I have also reviewed the law regarding self-defense, defense of others, what can be considered a deadly weapon, the reasonably prudent officer standard, and other relevant aspects of the law that may pertain to this case. In addition, I conferred with a use of force consultant and multiple police procedure professionals.

After a thorough review of the facts of this case, and the law that would apply to these facts, the evidence showed that Officer Larson did not utilize excessive force when he fired his weapon into the fully revved police SUV that was pointed at him a few feet away, that Brandon Combs was attempting to steal. Accordingly, the District Attorney’s Office will not charge Officer Larson with any criminal offenses arising out of the incident on February 13, 2022, at the Nissan dealership in Concord.”

Following the DA’s announcement, Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek issued his own statement, which reads as follows:

“This tragedy has caused enormous grief for the Combs’ family, and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to them. Immediately after the officer-involved shooting, I requested an independent investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to ensure confidence in the investigation throughout the community. Asking for an outside review is not required by law but it’s the right thing to do.

I respect the independent investigation and the separate independent decision today by the District Attorney to not bring charges against former officer Timothy Larson.

Outside of the independent investigation, the police department conducted our own personnel review of former officer Larson. That review concluded that he repeatedly made false statements, and he refused to cooperate with our review. Because I hold our officers to the highest standards, I fired him for that.

Police officers have a difficult job and ensuring they have the trust of the community is one of the most important ones. We’ll continue to work each day to serve and protect our community in every way possible.”