Courts & Crime

Questions surround police shooting of fraternity president

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. _ Three hours before police shot him to death on the side of Interstate 85, a UNC-Chapel Hill fraternity president was with friends at his frat house and in good spirits, his mother said.

Archdale police said that Courtland Benjamin Smith called 911 before dawn Sunday and said he was suicidal.

"His best friend was with him at 2 a.m. and said he was fine," said Susan Smith, the slain man's mother.

Archdale is in Randolph County, just over the Guilford County line. Smith's car was apparently in Guilford when he made his 911 call because he reached a dispatcher there. Guilford's alert reached the Archdale police.

"Once the vehicle came to a stop, a confrontation ensued," the statement said.

The release did not say whether Smith had a weapon, and his father, Pharr Smith of Houston, said in an interview that he did not own a gun. He also said that he didn't know where his son was planning to go as he headed west early Sunday.

The officer who shot Smith was Jeremy Paul Flinchum, 29. Archdale Police Chief Darrell Gibbs said Flinchum had been placed on administrative leave with pay.

The State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the incident, which is standard procedure for shootings involving a law officer.

What happened may not be clear for a while. The police department and SBI released few details Monday. The chief assistant district attorney in Randolph County said he had obtained a court order Monday to seal the 911 tape.

"There is a valid reason related to the investigation for not releasing it," Andrew Gregson said.

Susan Smith said the family wants to know what the tape says because it doesn't have much information about the shooting.

"We're all asking what happened," she said. "This is just not what my child would have done."

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