Durham County

Durham mother, NAACP demand autopsy of man shot by trooper

Thomasine Hinson, mother of Willard Scott, makes a speech surrounded by friends, family and supporters in front of the Durham County Courthouse on July 8, 2017, in Durham, NC.
Thomasine Hinson, mother of Willard Scott, makes a speech surrounded by friends, family and supporters in front of the Durham County Courthouse on July 8, 2017, in Durham, NC. The Herald-Sun

Five months after he was shot by a state trooper, the mother of Willard Scott Jr. is still waiting to learn exactly how her son died.

Thomasine Hinson, other relatives and Durham NAACP members gathered outside the Durham County Courthouse Saturday afternoon to demand the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner release its autopsy report.

“My heart aches daily,” Hinson said. “Aches. Aches, daily.”

Scott was driving a 1996 Nissan on Duke Street near Duke Regional Hospital shortly after 1 a.m. Feb. 12 when state trooper Jeremy Mathis signaled Scott to pull to the curb due to a lane violation and erratic driving, according to a State Highway Patrol release. Scott got out of his car and ran away.

Mathis shot and killed Scott, the release said.

NAACP President Roland Staton said a mortician told Hinson her son was shot in the back and Scott’s family will not find any peace of mind until the state medical examiner provides the autopsy.

The State Bureau of Investigation’s preliminary report showed a black handgun was found at the scene that did not belong to the State Highway Patrol.

The SBI will report its findings to Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols, who will decide whether to make them public and take additional action.

On Saturday, Staton told a crowd of around 25 people that neither the SBI nor Echols could conclude their investigations without the autopsy report.

Hinson described her son as a strong and intelligent, vivacious young man who often opted not to call her Mom, Mother or Momma but by a pet name of his own coinage, Goddess.

“On that night, alone with no other witnesses, Officer Jeremy Mathis served as judge, jury and executioner. This is not right,” Hinson said. “The only person whose story will be told about that night is Jeremy’s, because my son is dead.”

Along with the autopsy, Scott’s family and the NAACP demanded the N.C. Department of Public Safety release any video or audio it has, that Mathis be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that Echols and the SBI ensure full, “transparent” investigations.

Additionally, Staton said, the Durham NAACP demanded de-escalation training for law enforcement officers.

“We are training our children how not to be killed by police,” he said. “We need to be training our police how not to kill our children.”

A television reporter told Staton they’d recently received a letter from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office that said it was waiting for a toxicology analysis to complete and release the autopsy.

Staton said he wished the office had told Scott’s family why the autopsy was taking so long.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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