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Police: Accused shoplifter tried to grab sergeant’s gun before officer shot him

PINEVILLE, N.C. — An off-duty Pineville police officer shot and killed an accused shoplifter Tuesday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.

Pineville Police Department Capt. Corey Copley said they got a 911 call around 3 p.m. about a shoplifting suspect in the Food Lion on Johnston Road near Highway 51.

Police said a Pineville police sergeant was in uniform and working off-duty at the McMullen Creek Shopping Center. He was only minutes away from the Food Lion, so he responded to the call and found the suspect.

The suspect, who police identified as 46-year-old Dennis Bodden, and the officer got into a struggle before Bodden took off toward the Berkshire Place apartments across the street. Police said Bodden “ignored and refused verbal and lawful orders to stop.”

When they got to the apartment complex, police said the sergeant used a Taser as a form of less lethal force because Bodden became “physically confrontational” with the sergeant. However, police said that was not effective because Bodden kept walking away from the sergeant to go toward Cedar Circle Drive.

Soon, a backup officer arrived. The department said at this point, Bodden posed an escalating physical threat because he was resisting the officers’ efforts to take him into custody. They said he “displayed pre-assault indicators towards officers,” so the backup officer used a Taser on him again. It didn’t have any significant effect.

This is when police said Bodden lunged at the sergeant and tried to grab his gun, so the sergeant fatally shot him. He died at the scene.

Police said Bodden was “very well known to Pineville police as being a chronic shoplifting suspect at this Food Lion and having violent tendencies towards police and the public.” They also said Bodden did not have a weapon.

A Channel 9 crew could see food items and wine bottles were scattered across the roadway.

Pineville police said Bodden had two outstanding warrants for felony breaking and entering and felony larceny after breaking and entering. They’re tied to incidents at the same Food Lion on Johnston Road.

Both Pineville police officers were taken to the hospital for injuries but were not shot, the department said. The sergeant who fired the gun is on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Pineville police said they aren’t releasing the sergeant’s name.

‘Exhibited pre-assault indicators’

An expert told Channel 9 Wednesday that he believes the sergeant had the right to use deadly force, even though he was working off-duty.

“He exhibited pre-assault indicators towards the police officers during this encounter. And, in fact, that appears to have escalated,” said Walter Kimble, retired police chief.

Even though the sergeant was off duty, he was acting with similar authority, Kimble said.

“He was a police officer working a side-duty assignment. (The) big difference between that and obviously being off duty with your family or just driving by. He was in a specific and delineated law enforcement role within that general area.”

Kimble believes the deadly encounter could’ve ended without violence.

‘There were multiple opportunities for the suspect to disengage this encounter and submit to the lawful arrest,” Kimble said.

‘Never seen such a scene’

“I have been coming to the shopping complex for the past 3½ years, and I have never seen such a scene,” shopper Debapriya Roy said Monday. “My heart is sinking to hear a person died because of shoplifting. Maybe that person was armed. I don’t know, but that’s it.”

A husband and wife told Channel 9′s Tina Terry they were driving south on Johnston Road when they saw the altercation between the sergeant and the suspect.

“We could see that the officer was holding his Taser and we could see the leads running out to the suspect,” they told Terry.

They echoed what police shared, saying Bodden was still standing.

“The suspect was much taller than the police officer and he was by himself,” the husband said. “And it concerned both my wife and I that he didn’t appear to have any backup, so we did a U-turn and came back up.”

When the couple finally turned around, they said the officer and Bodden were at the apartment complex.

“Another police officer showed up and got behind the suspect, who was fighting now with the Pineville police officer. And the police officer was addressing the second police officer saying, ‘Tase him, Tase him,’ which he did and nothing happened.”

“The suspect just attacked this officer brutally and ... he’d been ‘Tased’ twice, and that’s when the gun came out and he fired.”

The Food Lion is in Pineville and the apartment complex where the shooting occurred is in Charlotte, so the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is leading the investigation. The Pineville Police Department is internally investigating the shooting as well.

Because CMPD is a third party in the case, they don’t need to get the State Bureau of Investigation involved.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: CMPD officer who shot, killed armed man won’t face charges)

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.