MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The lawyer for a man charged with racing toward a Mooresville police officer in a U-Haul van said his client wasn't trying to hit the officer.
Jeffrey Stewart's lawyer said the charges were filed to protect officer Jordan Sheldon, who he says overreacted.
Authorities said nobody was injured after Sheldon fired shots at Stewart near a U-Haul van late Sunday night.
Stewart raced toward Sheldon, and that was when the officer fired shots.
[IMAGES: Officer opens fire on U-haul van in Mooresville]
The Mooresville police chief told Channel 9 that the van was parked outside Fire Station 3 on Shearers Road and that officers responded to a suspicious vehicle call there around 11:30 p.m.
Joey Perkins, who lives nearby, said he knows the people the officer encountered.
He said he's had trouble with them, and he's not surprised a visit from police didn't go well.
“I told police they ain't supposed to be down there,” Perkins said.
When Sheldon arrived, he encountered two vehicles with several people in them in the parking lot of the fire station.
The chief said the driver "failed to comply" with the officers' orders and that Sheldon fired shots as Stewart charged at the officer in the parking lot.
Channel 9 crews could see about a dozen bullet holes in the door of the U-Haul van.
Stewart, who was not hurt, was taken into custody.
Perkins said Stewart has had run-ins with the group involved.
“It's all pretty much probably drug-related,” Perkins said. “They all were down there and doing drugs and had been doing them.”
Chief Damon Williams suggested the officer's life was put in danger in the moments before he opened fire.
“A vehicle can be used as a deadly weapon,” he said. “That definitely changes the circumstances that the officers have to adjust to and have to deal with.”
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Police are trying to figure out if the driver had anything dangerous in the van. The State Bureau of Investigations is also investigating the incident.
"That sequence of events, especially if a vehicle is accelerating, it's very common where the officer decides to shoot as the vehicle is in front of him or her,” law enforcement attorney Scott MacLatchie said. “By the time the trigger is pulled, and the bullets leave the gun, the vehicle position has changed."
Sheldon is on administrative leave, which is policy after that type of incident.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.
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