Fayetteville police chief talks prayer, leaked officer shooting video

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- At the front of the sanctuary in Fayetteville's First Baptist Church, rows of gleaming badges were prayed upon.

Filling the pews were community members, city police, county deputies, their families and counterparts.

It was the area's first Blessing of Badges, and at a time when law enforcement and their practices come under intense scrutiny nationwide, and relationships are seemingly more strained than ever before, those in attendance agree if there was ever a time to pray it's now.

"It is clear that folks across our city are praying for their police officers and also praying for the folks we come in contact with," said Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock.

From a front pew to a stance in front of television cameras, Medlock opened up about this week's leaked dash cam video, showing a FPD officer shooting an armed man in the back and killing him during a 2013 traffic stop and altercation. Read more here.

Click to watch the video. Warning video is graphic.

The Cumberland County District Attorney cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, noting a justified shooting in his final report.

The case is now working its way through federal court as a civil suit has been filed by the man's family.

When asked if he believed people have rushed to judgment regarding the leaked video, Medlock said community feedback has not been negative.

"Well, I'm not sure what your judgement is. We have talked to a lot of folks throughout the community yesterday and today, and we've heard from a lot in the community that the video does speak for itself," Medlock said. "There are options that people have when they come in contact with us and certainly we have options as well. That was a horrible incident for both the individual who is deceased and our officer because no matter what, no matter how justified, how lawful that kind of use of force is, it still cost a human being his life."

Medlock took over the police department a month after that shooting, and has been vocal about the importance of sound community relations between residents and officers.

Medlock invited the Department of Justice into town this week to hold listening sessions with people regarding FPD practices.

He also spoke on recent successes, saying specialized training over the past 18 months has helped reduce the instances of deadly interactions with citizens.

"The problem is those kinds of incidents really aren't newsworthy because everybody walked away from it just fine," said Medlock.

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