Durham County

‘Shot in the back’: NAACP decries shooting after Durham man’s autopsy released

Willard Scott
Willard Scott courtesy of the family

The Durham Branch of the NAACP condemned the shooting of a Durham man by a state trooper after an autopsy report showed Willard Scott Jr., 31, was shot twice from behind.

“Today, the autopsy was released – confirming our worst fears,” the NAACP said in a statement Monday. “The autopsy shows that Willard, whom his mother called Junior, was shot in the back – twice.”

The NAACP acknowledged the autopsy provided some insight into the shooting's happenings, but the statement added, “The answers lead to even more questions.”

Scott was shot in his left lower back and right buttock Feb. 12, after Trooper Jerimy Mathis signaled Scott to pull to the curb due for a traffic violation and a foot chase ensued.

“During the foot pursuit an armed confrontation ensued,” a State Highway Patrol release stated. A gun was found at the scene the Highway Patrol said did not belong to the agency.

Scott died on the operating table at Duke Regional Hospital from chest trauma and massive blood loss, the report from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said.

The bullet that killed Scott entered the left side of his lower back, and traveled “back to front, left to right and upward,” the report said.

It perforated Scott’s liver, struck the gallbladder and pierced his diaphragm, before lodging in the fleshy tissues beneath the skin of his right chest.

The bullet that struck Scott's buttock fragmented when it hit his pelvic bone, the autopsy report said.

A small cut was found on Scott's nose and two superficial cuts were examined on his left hand's fingers.

Scott's right hand was cut and one right-handed finger too had an abrasion, the report said. Additionally, a cut was found on Scott's elbow and both knees appeared scraped. The right knee had slight bruising.

On Saturday Scott's mother, Thomasine Hinson, along with Durham NAACP members had demanded the medical examiner release the autopsy report.

“Whether it’s because of the police or young black men killing young black men, how many Einsteins have we lost?” Durham NAACP President Roland Staton said Saturday. “You can’t measure somebody because of their economic status. What if Abraham Lincoln had been killed in a drive-by?”

On Monday, the Durham NAACP re-affirmed its support for the family’s demands:

▪ District Attorney Roger Echols and the State Bureau of Investigation must conduct a full investigation and release any video, audio, or other documentation to the family.

▪ Echols must prosecute Mathis to the fullest extent of the law, as warranted by the investigation.

▪ The Highway Patrol must implement de-escalation training to ensure that traffic stops do not become death sentences.

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