Dispatch calls released in student's death

August 28, 2009 7:59:43 AM PDT
We're learning a little more about the death of a local man who attended college in North Carolina. He was shot to death by police this past weekend. [HEAR IT: North Carolina police dispatch call]

[HEAR IT: Courtland Smith's 911 call]

Police in North Carolina released those recordings Thursday. Perhaps more important than what's on them is what's not on them. Police don't report seeing a gun or being threatened. In fact, what they do say is that Houston's Courtland Smith was getting back into his SUV just seconds before he was shot.

At a Galleria-area funeral home Thursday night, there was a constant stream of cars entering the parking lot and spaces were scarce. Inside, during visitation family and friends leaned on each other, mourning the death of Smith. He's being remembered as kind-hearted and popular.

Several states away in North Carolina, there are more questions surrounding his death.

"I mean, I'm trying to kill myself on I-40.That's all I need," Smith said during his 911 call.

Smith, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student called 911 early Sunday morning telling the Greensboro, North Carolina operator he was drunk, speeding down the highway, had a gun and was suicidal.

"I emailed anything that anyone needed to know to my parents," said Smith.

Smith stayed on the line until officers caught up with him. What was made public of the 911 call sheds little light on the shooting, but newly released police radio traffic reveals more.

It was two officers who confronted Smith along the side of the highway. They never said they saw a gun or whether they were threatened, but within 30 seconds, there were shots fired.

"Subject is getting back into his vehicle. Standby. Subject down! Subject down! Shots fired," said one of the responding officers.

A North Carolina television station reports Smith was unarmed. Only one of the officers fired his weapon. Both are on administrative leave as is standard procedure.

Online messages of sympathy paint the picture of a young man who shied away from confrontation. He spent summers as a camp counselor and this year, he was president of his Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

For his loved ones who spent time reflecting on his death, there are still a lot of whys.

The police chief in Archdale, North Carolina, where the shooting happened says both patrol cars are equipped with dash cams. However, state police are not releasing the video citing the ongoing investigation.

Smith's funeral is scheduled for Friday morning.

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