Officers in fatal shooting had non-lethal weapons on hand

Duke Police officers involved in the fatal shooting of the man outside Duke Hospital March 13 were carrying non-lethal weapons on their persons, Aaron Graves, associate vice president for campus safety and security, wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

According to the autopsy report released Friday, no weapons were found on Durham resident Aaron Lorenzo Dorsey’s person. Although it is unclear if the officers had Tasers on hand during the incident, Graves said Duke police officers are equipped with other non-lethal weapons such as batons and pepper spray.

“Duke officers do carry less than lethal weapons... and we do deploy Tasers, but not every officer carries one on his or her person,” Graves said. “As to why the officers took the specific actions they did, this information is being obtained through the investigatory progress.”

A single gunshot to the head caused extensive damage to Dorsey’s skull and brain, according to the autopsy by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill. Dorsey, 25, also had a laceration and abrasion on the inner surface of his lower lip.

Medical tests did not find alcohol or drugs in Dorsey’s system.

Dorsey was not identified as the victim until March 17. His fingerprints were sent by Duke University Police Department to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to confirm his identity.

The shooting occurred at approximately 1:09 a.m., when DUPD officers Larry Carter and Jeffrey Liberto responded to a report of a suspicious person outside of Duke University Hospital’s main entrance. Dorsey attacked the officers and tried to take control of one of their guns, DUPD Chief John Dailey said in a statement March 17.

“After other options failed to stop the individual, the other officer discharged his firearm one time, fatally wounding Mr. Dorsey,” Dailey said in the statement. Dailey deferred all further comments to Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations.

Administrators declined to say why the officers aimed for Dorsey’s head, adding that the incident is still under review by the SBI.

Schoenfeld also declined to comment when asked which officer fired the weapon.

Following the shooting, both officers were put on paid administrative leave. Carter has been employed by Duke police for 23 years and Liberto for two years.

“One of the officers has returned to full duty and the other is on administrative duty,” Schoenfeld wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. “In this case and as is standard, the State Bureau of Investigation is continuing its investigation so we are not able to comment on the specifics of the incident.”

Graves also noted that Dorsey had family that was notified of the incident shortly after his death.

Although the SBI is still investigating the shooting, Schoenfeld said May 24 that DUPD has completed its review.

Noelle Talley, public information officer for the North Carolina Department of Justice, declined to say when SBI will disclose further information about the case. 


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