A veteran North Carolina state trooper was justified in fatally shooting an armed suspect during a traffic stop in which the gunman opened fire on him, with only his ballistic vest saving his life, prosecutors said Tuesday.
State Highway Patrol Trooper Jeffrey L. Dunlap was shot in the chest just after 7:30 p.m. on July 3 while assisting a stranded motorist on Interstate 26, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said.
Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said his office reviewed police dashcam footage of the shooting, prompting him to clear Dunlap of any potential wrongdoing.
“No criminal charges will be filed in this matter and the NC SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) may close this investigation,” Williams said. “I informed Taylor’s family of this decision today. The DA’s Office thanks all of our courageous law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line daily to ensure public safety.”
During the interaction, Wesley Scott Taylor took out a .44 magnum pistol and fired, Williams said.
Williams, a 13-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, returned fire after his vest stopped an incoming round aimed at his chest, Williams said.
“Fortunately, the round fired by Taylor was stopped by Trooper Dunlap’s ballistic vest,” he said.
Dunlap returned fire, killing Taylor, 57, who died at the scene.
Dunlap was taken to a hospital and released.
He was placed on administrative leave, as is protocol.
The shooting is being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation.