‘They have darkened their souls’: Family of Robeson County man killed by deputies seeks answers

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LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) – A family and their attorneys held a media briefing Thursday to seek answers in the death of a Robeson County man who was shot by police officers.

Matthew Oxendine, 46, of Red Springs, was shot and killed while he sat in his car outside of a relative’s home in January. The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said that when SWAT operators were trying to get Oxendine out of the vehicle, he pointed what appeared to be a gun toward operators.

“Initial reports stated that Oxendine pointed a gun at officers, however, attorneys say they now know that not to be factual,” the attorneys announced in a press release on Wednesday.

They said the family is looking for answers, including why there is no body camera or dash camera footage available.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations said crime scene agents recovered a toy gun with a wooden stock and a metal bolt with a short barrel in the vehicle that Oxendine was driving.

Attorneys also question inconsistencies in the timeline of events as described by law enforcement. Oxendine himself had made the precipitating 911 call in a distressed state. He had a previous history of mental illness. The full timeline as reported by the sheriff’s office can be found here.

“The legal team’s central question is simple,” the attorneys wrote. “How did a mental health call end up with Oxendine dead following 30 rounds of gunfire from law enforcement?”

Attorneys Bakari Sellers, Chance Lynch and Chantel Cherry-Lassiter were joined by family members in Lumberton on Thursday, including a witness to the events that evening. Attorneys called the shooting an “execution.”

Hope Eullard, Oxendine’s cousin, said that the deputies who shot Oxendine “have no idea how they have darkened their souls and made me fear for my safety in my own home.”

She said she told authorities there was no reason for law enforcement to be there.

“I told him it was going to be alright that night,” she said.

One of Oxendine’s brothers, Greg Oxendine, said he was on the phone with Eullard when deputies were on the scene.

“I said ‘Are you sure he’s ok?'” he said. “When she said ok the second time, that’s when I heard the gunshots. it sounded like a machine gun going off on the phone.”

He said it took him several calls before law enforcement told him his brother was dead.

The lawyers said they have pressed authorities on the presence of body cam, and that “it is extremely troubling that none apparently exists.” Images from the scene of the shooting show the windshield of Oxendine’s P.T. Cruiser, where he was sitting when killed, riddled with bullets. 

Attorneys distributed copies of the mortuary report, describing the condition of Oxendine’s body following the shooting. 

The SBI is investigating and all officers involved are on administrative leave, although the the Oxendine family’s lawyers said that they have returned to patrol, stating that it is a small community and easy to know when deputies have returned to work.

The family’s attorneys said they have not ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit.

Oxendine’s family said that he had lost his wife at a young age, had experienced depression and was about to get a workman’s compensation claim the next week. He also had a granddaughter born right before his death.

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