A 20-year-old man shot and killed by a North Carolina cop had repeatedly driven a farm tractor into the officer’s patrol car, officials say.
The Randolph County deputy was patrolling early Tuesday “when he saw a tractor driving erratically in the middle of the road without its headlights on,” according to a news release.
When the officer tried to make a traffic stop, the tractor continued moving and cut through a yard, the release says.
The driver — later identified as Cole Steele Jessup — turned the tractor toward the cop and “rammed the patrol car three times,” almost tipping it, according to Randolph County officials.
“Fearing that the nearly 7,000-pound machine could roll over his car and kill him, the deputy fired at the driver,” cops say.
Jessup died at the scene of the shooting, the news release says.
“I don’t think it’s right they shot my son five times, especially because he wasn’t armed or nothing, and he was on a tractor that might run 20 miles an hour,” his father told Spectrum News.
The tractor was taken from an area near the shooting, cops say.
“It is sad that someone lost their life stealing a piece of equipment,” Sheriff Greg Seabolt said, according to WFMY. “What concerns me is a lack of respect for the law enforcement community.”
The deputy, who wasn’t hurt, went on administrative leave, per Randolph County protocol, according to the release. The sheriff’s office as of Tuesday couldn’t release the officer’s name, spokeswoman Amanda Varner told McClatchy news group in an email.
Officials say the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.
The incident happened near North Carolina Highway 22/42, about 40 miles south of Greensboro.
“This is the third deputy-involved shooting” in that area recently, and the sheriff says the trend could be linked to increased drug activity, according to WGHP.