Shooting of suspect at Hendersonville Walmart ruled justified

HENDERSONVILLE, NC (WSPA) - The Henderson Police officer that shot and killed a suspect has been cleared of criminal liability, according to District Attorney Greg Newman.

Hendersonville Police say officers responded to the Walmart Super Center on Highlands Square Drive around 11:00 pm on Nov. 30, 2017.

Detective Brandon McGaha shot Rufus Cedric Baker, 32, of Buncombe Co during an undercover drug investigation in Hendersonville.

The suspect was being placed under arrest when he attempted to escape according to Police Chief Herbert Blake.

McGaha shot and killed Baker while he was trying to get away.

The chief says the suspect appeared to be reaching for a weapon in his waistband. "We feel the officer did what he felt was in the best interest of the Public's and his own safety," said Blake in a written statement.

DA Newman said "I know that Officer McGaha would prefer that the incident end with an arrest and not the death of the suspect. But he had to avoid being hit by Baker's car and Baker was reaching for his gun while attempting an escape from the parking lot. It appeared to me, from the witness interviews as well as the video tape of the area, that Baker was intending to shoot his way out of the immediate area. Officer McGaha had to make a difficult split - second decision and I believe he made the right call."

Blake says a substance - suspected to be illegal drugs - and a semi-automatic pistol recovered at the scene have been turned over to state investigators.

DA Newman has recommended that the State Bureau of Investigation close its file on the investigation since the shooting was justifiable.

Newman says it is up to the police chief concerning the resumption of duties for detective McGaha, who was on administrative leave after the shooting.

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