Pastor and District Attorney refute "excessive force" claims by - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Pastor and District Attorney refute "excessive force" claims by NAACP

Jamison said officers are in the streets to help, not hurt, the community. Jamison said officers are in the streets to help, not hurt, the community.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – When an increase in gang violence erupted in the city of Wilmington, the voice of Reverend James Jamison could be heard over many others in the effort to solve the problem.

Jamison, who works closely with the Wilmington Police Department through the Boots on the Ground organization, said claims of officers using excessive force do not match the actions of the men and women he knows so well.

"Some of their reactions may seem excessive to you," Jamison said. "But, they don't know who's going to kill them."

Three men have died in several officer-involved shootings in the last month. The actions of officers who shot and killed Brandon Smith were ruled justified by District Attorney Ben David. The rest of those shootings are still being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation.

Reverend William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP, called for an investigation into excessive force used by police at a press conference in Wilmington Tuesday. He said courtroom justice has been replaced by street justice.

Jamison said he's never heard of such a thing in Wilmington. In fact, he's witnessed several occasions that escalated, but officers used more restraint than he expected.

"I think sometimes we don't realize that these officers are concerned about dying too," said Jamison.

Several community leaders were contacted for comment on Tuesday's claims by the NAACP. Both Earl Sheridan, on Wilmington City Council, and Jonathan Barfield, on the New Hanover County Commissioners, said they would wait to comment until they had all the information.

District Attorney Ben David released the following statement Tuesday night:

"Rev. Barber is in Raleigh and reads the news online. Pastor Jamison is in Wilmington and touching people on the ground. In my job, a witness is far more reliable when they are able to testify from direct experiences than from hearsay."

Jamison said the families that are afraid to let their children play in parks and the people who are sleeping under mattresses to avoid stray bullets are excited about the effort by police to bring peace back to the Port City.

"This thing has been turning around and the police department is doing an outstanding job," he said.

Copyright 2013 WECT. All rights reserved.

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