Family urges law enforcement to release video

Family urges law enforcement to release video
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 9:33 PM EDT
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WALLACE, N.C. (WITN) - The shooting death of a Wallace man by police has gained the attention of a nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney.

Ben Crump announced Tuesday that he would join attorney Dawn Blagrove with Emancipate NC at a 1:00 pm press conference on Wednesday to demand that police release the footage in the death of James Lanier.

Lanier was killed by Wallace police in the parking lot of the Express Mini Mart on North Norwood Street around 11:00 p.m. on February 24th. According to his family, he was unarmed and suffering from a mental health crisis at the time.

“That was my baby child,” said Janet Brice, mother of Lanier. “He would help anybody. All of you who knew him knew he was always smiling.”

The owner of the store told WITN at the time that his employees said the 34-year-old Lanier came into the store naked and was bothering customers.

“We had somebody come up here,” said Anthony Rosso, a cashier at Express Mini Mart. “He was really aggressive towards customers he was just standing literally over the customer, and he was attacked by James.”

After police arrived, the owner said Lanier charged at the officer who first tased the man. The owner said the employee told him they then heard three shots. Rosso shared that the police officer was very patient and kind to Lanier.

“He was talking,” said Rosso. “I mean very nice and calm about the situation, and it looked like at that time if I remember correctly James was naked already...his pants were down to his ankles.”

The District Attorney examined the video form that night and decided that the officer fired at Lanier in self-defense. Wallace Police Chief James Crayton believes the officer involved did no wrong.

“The officer in this case did no wrong,” said Chief Crayton. “He gave Mr. Lanier multiple opportunities to change his mind from the decisions that he was making that night.”

In the conference on Wednesday, Brice and the family’s attorneys want the public to see for themselves and have their own opinion.

“It doesn’t matter what he looked like,” said Brice. “That was my child, my black child, and if I would come upon your child I could have shown him some respect.”

Chief Crayton told WITN that his thoughts are with the Lanier family, “my heart does break for the Lanier family and what they are experiencing in this time, and how unfortunate all of it is.”

Brice spoke to Chief Crayton directly toward the end of the press conference, “you say you want to protect and serve,” said Brice. “But what happened to the protection? My son didn’t get any protection. I am just confused here, where did the protection come from?”

Wallace Police Department said the family has seen the video already, and their new lawyers will see it next week. No footage from the incident has been released to the public by police.