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Fallen officer repeatedly complained about faulty equipment, inadequate safety, family says

"When somebody starts sentences with at family dinner with, ‘If I die in the line of duty,’ that seemed wildly out of character for him and that was alarming to us."

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Six months after the death of Mooresville K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon, WCNC has uncovered new information on what happened that night and major safety concerns leading up to the officer's death.

The concerns paint a picture of a police department equipped with missing or faulty gear and policies that didn't adequately ensure officer safety, which led to concerns Sheldon voiced repeatedly in the weeks and months leading up to his death.

"Jordan loved being a policeman. He would want other police officers to be safe so that's our whole reason for being here," said his mom, Susan Ledford. 

The pain is still raw for the family of Sheldon who was shot and killed in the line of duty May 4, 2019, during a traffic stop.

"He wanted to be a police officer," his sister, Lauren Sheldon, said. "He genuinely wanted to make a difference and he genuinely wanted to help people.” 

RELATED: Officer Sheldon died protecting the community he loved: “He always wanted to be the hero”

NBC Charlotte anchor Sarah French sat down with Sheldon's mom, sister, and brother. Each recounted how Sheldon had expressed his fears to them regarding his safety.

"He was a man of few words, and so when he spoke, we listened," Susan Ledford said. 

She said her son started voicing concerns he had about a year ago.

"Just about every time we got together as a family he voiced concerns," she said. 

Sheldon’s brother, Carson Ledford, said he was not a dramatic person. "When somebody starts sentences with at family dinner with, 'If I die in the line of duty,' that seemed wildly out of character for him and that was alarming to us."

RELATED: 'Friday Night Lights' raises money for K9 foundation in honor of fallen officer

Sheldon’s family says his complaints centered primarily around missing or malfunctioning gear and what he says was a glaring oversight of department policy.

"He told us he felt he did not have backup," Lauren Sheldon said. 

"That was a fear that he said multiple times," Carson Ledford said. "That he was afraid because he didn't have backup."

In fact, at the time of Sheldon’s death, the Mooresville Police Department did not require two officers be dispatched to each call, which is custom in many departments.

On the night of May 4, 2019, Sheldon conducted a traffic stop on West Plaza Drive in Mooresville.

The State Bureau of Investigation and Mooresville Police Department conducted an investigation, which revealed that the traffic stop was on suspicion of a suspended driver's license. Sheldon called the traffic stop at 10:13 p.m.

Michael Yovany Aldana of Mooresville was identified as the driver of the vehicle.

Interim Mooresville Police Chief Ron Campurciani said he reviewed Sheldon's body cam video from that night.

RELATED: 'Family Fun Day' event held to honor fallen officer in Mooresville

"You can see in the video he does everything right," Campurciani said.

Sheldon's first trip to Aldana's car was to get documentation.

"The guy was friendly in the video. He was cordial," Campurciani said.

He even described Aldana as "polite."

"There was nothing in that initial stop that would raise any type of red flag," Campurciani said.

After obtaining Aldana's license and registration, Sheldon returned to his patrol vehicle to check Aldana's information through the national database while Aldana was in his vehicle.

RELATED: Benefit concert planned to honor fallen Mooresville K-9 Officer Jordan Sheldon

Results confirmed Aldana was driving on a suspended license, and Sheldon approached the vehicle again and spoke with Aldana, who produced additional documentation.

While Sheldon examined the documents, Aldana fired a semiautomatic handgun at Sheldon.

"All of a sudden, just out of the blue, the guy just grabs a gun and shoots," Campurciani said.

Officials say Aldana then fled the scene, drove to his apartment off Plaza Drive and took his own life.

Campurciani said Sheldon didn't have any time to react. "None."

"Probably our biggest and most egregious concern is that he was alone when he died in terms of officers there," Carson Ledford said. 

RELATED: Nonprofit donates Scripture-inscribed dog tags to Mooresville PD to honor fallen Officer Jordan Sheldon

Mooresville Police Chief Damon Williams was suspended a month after Sheldon’s death amid an investigation sparked by claims of a hostile work environment. Since taking the job of interim chief, Campuciani changed the department policy and now requires two officers respond to every call.

"That wasn't done here. Why? I don't have an answer for you, but I changed that literally very early on. The second day I found out that wasn't happening," Campuciani said.

At the time of the shooting, Sheldon's K-9 was still in the car, which is standard procedure when no threat or reason is warranted.

"They (K-9 officers) have a button on their collar where they release the dog out of the car if they're in an emergency and his didn't work," Susan Ledford explained.

In an email to Sheldon’s family, the town manager said, "Members of the K-9 unit were aware his button worked sporadically based on discussions with Jordan. However, there is no documentation in our records that he ever requested it be fixed or replaced." 

"Does it still concern you though that his button wasn't working?" French asked.

"It concerns me a lot. It concerns me a lot and what I've been told on that was that it's sporadic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it didn't," Campurciani said. "So, as far as I know, that's been corrected."

There's also no documentation regarding another one of Sheldon's concerns.

"He needed a floodlight and he couldn't get one," Susan Ledford said. 

"It should be sort of standard equipment so it’s important obviously if you work at nights on the road and there's a lot of unlit areas here," Campuciani said. "You know, why he didn't have it I'm not sure."

RELATED: Mooresville Police complete homicide investigation for fallen K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon

"The process shouldn't be so arduous that you never get what you need, particularly in a job for you to be tactical it requires tools," Carson Ledford said.

"Having a floodlight, could he have seen the end of the gun? I don't know," Susan Ledford said. "If he could've released the dog, I don't know if it would have, if any of it would've made any difference, but if it would make a difference for somebody else in a different situation you know that's what we are after."

The family says they would like an investigation into what happened within the department the night that Sheldon was killed.

Thursday at 6 p.m. on NBC Charlotte, we'll have more on the investigation into the police department and safety concerns Sheldon and other officers voiced in closed-door testimony about the Mooresville Police Department.

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