Fayetteville Police Officer Paul Davis, Jr. and 25-year-old Reginald Butler recently crossed paths. From what Police Chief Harold Medlock recounts, Butler should be glad he’s still alive. Davis and his family are no doubt reflecting on what could have been his last day on the job.
Butler had crashed his car, and Davis was one of three officers to respond to the scene of the one-vehicle wreck on Bunce Road. The accident investigation disclosed that Butler became “visibly agitated,” according to Lt. David McLaurin, but he apparently was not hurt. Davis asked him to take a seat in his own car and relax, at which point “Butler became even more agitated, took off his coat and threw it on the ground,” McLaurin added.
Davis was speaking with Butler while the other officers were reviewing the accident scene. Then, in a split second, came one of those “decision points” as Police Chief Harold Medlock described it. While Butler and Davis were talking, Butler reached down and pulled up one of his pants’ legs. The police report indicated Butler pulled a handgun from his sock. Davis grabbed the man’s hand and pistol and pressed them against his leg. Seeing the commotion, the other officers took control of Butler and he was disarmed. The weapon was a 38-caliber snub-nose revolver.
Medlock tells Up & Coming Weekly had it not been for training and the officer’s presence of mind, the incident could easily have gone differently and Davis would “probably have been justified in shooting Butler” who is black. Davis, a field training officer and a 10-year veteran of the department, is a “squared away professional” according to Medlock.
Butler, as it turns out, has a lengthy criminal record. He is in jail and is being held on several charges including three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on government officials and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to police. This was one of several similar incidents in recent months during which police officers had to confront armed subjects who attempted to assault them, said McLaurin.
This is not a Fayetteville problem, but rather one that is being faced by law enforcement officers across the nation.
“It worries me to no end,” Medlock said. “It’s different at the chief’s level, worrying about their safety. We’re faced with these situations all the time.”
The other officers involved in this case were Dylan Kettell, a K-9 officer with 11 years’ experience and Matthew Smith who’s been on the department since 2013.