Family of man shot by Harnett deputy calls for change

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A devastated family calls for change in the Harnett County Sheriff's Office.

This week marks six months since John Livingston was shot and killed by a Harnett County Sheriff's Deputy. The case seemed to be a tipping point in this community with a long history of strained relations with the Harnett County Sheriff's Office. So, Monday night, Livingston's family walked into the county commissioners meeting to say they were "taking Harnett County back"-- demanding the removal of the sheriff and the district attorney.

"They have John Livingston's blood on their hands," said Livingston family friend Maria Arias. "(The Board of Commissioners) could have done something, and they didn't."

Livingston's family and friends walked out of the meeting pledging that their battle against what they call a corrupt county justice system is just beginning.



"This is going to stop with this whole old-boys club, and the county commissioners working for the sheriff, and the district attorney. No, they work for us!" Arias said.

The family looked commissioners in the eye, accusing them of ignoring years of sheriff deputy misconduct -- demanding the panel clean house at the sheriff's office.

"It's heartbreaking, it's hard -- but it's got to be done," said Frankie Setzer. "We got to speak up for John, for Brandon, for Christian, for everybody."

Last week, the North Carolina NAACP called for a full federal probe here. Family members of alleged victims told similar stories. Christian Griggs' mother says her son's death was covered up by Harnett deputies. Brandon Bethea's cousin said Brandon was left to die in a jail cell after being Tasered by county detention officers.

And, there's the John Livingston case. The 33-year old father was fatally shot after Harnett County deputies showed up at the door of the mobile home where he'd been living.

"I really don't wanna talk, I'm sorry," Livingston's son John said after the meeting, still too shaken up to talk about it. But since his father's death, Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins abruptly resigned and the FBI launched an investigation into the shooting to determine if any federal laws were broken.

Monday night, Livington's family told commissioners, it's not enough.

"(Newly-appointed Sheriff Wayne Coats) has to go. District Attorney Vernon Stewart has to go, or they go. That's their choice," Arias said.

Because of the ongoing federal investigation, Sheriff Coats and county commissioners say they're limited in what they can say about all the allegations.

The Livingston family said they won't be satisfied until commissioners use North Carolina General Statute to remove Sheriff Coats and Harnett County District Attorney Vernon Stewart.

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