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No charges will be filed against former Concord officer who shot, killed man

Brandon Combs died after being shot by Timothy Larson, who was employed as an officer with the Concord Police Department, in February.

CONCORD, N.C. — The Cabarrus County District Attorney decided not to charge an officer who shot and killed a man who was attempting to steal his police vehicle.

On Wednesday, Roxann Vaneekhoven, Cabarrus County District Attorney, released a review and findings of the case involving former Concord police officer Timothy Larson and Brandon Combs, 29.

The shooting happened on Feb. 13 around 5 a.m. at the Modern Nissan Dealership in Concord. Police say Larson shot Combs while Combs was in the driver's seat of Larson's police SUV.

Vaneekhoven used the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) review, body cam footage, statements from Larson and other officers, and other files involved with the investigation. After reviewing this material, she found that Larson did not use excessive force in the deadly shooting because Combs was operating a vehicle pointed at Larson. The district attorney's office will not charge Larson. 

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On that February day, Larson was on patrol when he spotted Combs attempting to start a truck at the dealership. Larson approached Combs to see what he was doing and Combs asked him to put his gun down. However, the review states Larson did not unholster his gun until after this initial interaction.

While Larson began moving closer to the vehicle, Combs started moving around, still inside the truck. The officer told Larson to stop moving, which he did not comply with, according to the review.

Larson told Combs to get out of the vehicle but Combs did not do so and shut the truck's door each time Combs would attempt to open it. At this point, Larson radioed in that he had someone at gunpoint and needed backup.

According to the review, Larson walked toward the truck with a taser and a baton and hit the vehicle's window but did not break it. After this, Larson took cover behind a white van as the review states he was worried Combs may have a weapon.

After this, Combs exited the truck and ran toward Larson's police vehicle. Combs entered the vehicle and sat in the driver's seat. 

Larson then said over the radio, "He's going to my patrol vehicle."

When Larson heard the police vehicle's engine roar, he says he feared for his life and fired five gunshots at Combs from about five to 10 feet away. Larson fired another shot after reporting "shots fired" over the radio.

Combs moved around slowly inside of the vehicle and Larson told him to turn off the police SUV and put his hands up. Backup officers arrived and also asked Combs to show his hands, according to the review. 

Combs was then transported to a local hospital where he later died.

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The Concord Police Department and SBI looked into the shooting and questioned Larson about his actions. 

Larson was effectively terminated in May. He had been with the department for over two years.

According to a notice of dismissal used to terminate Larson, the officer gave investigators false information in regards to the shooting.

Months following the shooting, Combs's family called for the release of the bodycam footage and for Larson to be prosecuted

"If you shoot someone unjustifiably, it is an unlawful homicide," Harry Daniels, an attorney for the Combs family, said in June. "If it was me... or anyone else here who committed these acts, we would be in Cabarrus County jail with no bond. It's time for the District Attorney to take a stance if she's tough on crime."

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In response to the district attorney's decision not to press charges, Combs's family attorneys stated they were disappointed but not surprised.

"[Vaneekhoven] doesn’t care that a medical examiner’s office investigation ruled Brandon’s death a homicide," the attorneys said in a statement. "She doesn’t care that Brandon was unarmed or the fact that body camera video shows that Larson was never in the path of the vehicle which means, according to the law, he was in no danger. She doesn’t even care that Officer Larson lied to the agents investigating this shooting."

Combs's family has filed a federal lawsuit against Larson and the city of Concord. They are seeking financial compensation. The defendants have yet to legally respond. No future dates are scheduled in the case yet, according to court records.

It's unclear if Larson will rejoin the Concord Police Department. WCNC Charlotte received the following statement from Chief Gary Gacek when requested:

This tragedy has caused enormous grief for the Combs’ family, and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to them. Immediately after the officer-involved shooting, I requested an independent investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to ensure confidence in the investigation throughout the community. Asking for an outside review is not required by law but it’s the right thing to do.

I respect the independent investigation and the separate independent decision today by the District Attorney to not bring charges against former officer Timothy Larson.

Outside of the independent investigation, the police department conducted our own personnel review of former officer Larson. That review concluded that he repeatedly made false statements, and he refused to cooperate with our review. Because I hold our officers to the highest standards, I fired him for that.

Police officers have a difficult job and ensuring they have the trust of the community is one of the most important ones. We’ll continue to work each day to serve and protect our community in every way possible.

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