Wake DA clears RPD officer who fired multiple rounds, striking armed suspect and bystander

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Monday, May 13, 2024
RPD officer who fired multiple rounds at armed suspect cleared by DA
Wake DA clears RPD officer who fired multiple rounds, striking armed suspect and bystander

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh police officer who shot an armed suspect and a bystander has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The Wake County District Attorney's Office said in a report released Monday that the use of force was justified and no charges will be pursued against the officer.

Body-cam video released in April of the shooting, which happened on the night of Feb. 10 near the 800 block of Rock Quarry Road near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Officers were called to the area to investigate a possible shooting. When they arrived they initially found nothing, but then heard several gunshots.

In its 5-day report from Feb. 16, RPD stated that Officer M.L. Berg ran toward the gunshots. His body camera reportedly shows that within seconds of hearing the gunshots, Berg locates a man holding what appears to be a gun.

WARNING: The video below may be disturbing for some viewers.

Berg orders the man to drop the gun and place his hands on his head. He also identifies himself as a police officer.

The newly released video shows a man, identified as Ranses Vacramontes Vargas, continuing to walk away from Berg. He eventually runs behind a red pickup.

You can see in the video that the officer is in the middle of the parking lot without cover as the 5-day report stated. Raleigh Police Department said that's when Berg began firing his gun. He shot off 18 rounds. Berg then notices movement inside the red pickup.

Inside the truck was a bystander not involved with Vargas. Berg's gunshots hit and injured the bystander in the truck.

At this point, Berg's partner arrives and both officers move toward the truck. They find Vargas lying on the ground beside the truck with gunshot wounds. He was treated for those injuries on the scene and at the hospital. The handgun Vargas was carrying, a Taurus G3 9mm along with one extra magazine, was found on the ground next to his right leg, the DA report showed.

Officers also found two women who they say Vargas shot before officers arrived. He has been charged in that case with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

"Body camera video, evidence from the scene, and witness statements corroborate the statements of Officer Berg that he shot Mr. Vargas following Mr. Vargas' refusing to follow directives and making furtive motions with a firearm," District Attorney Lorrin Freeman wrote. "A review of the evidence in this case leads to a conclusion that the use of force was lawful and that a prosecution is not warranted."