Family of man killed by Wallace police seek justice during prayer vigil

WALLACE, N.C. (WITN) -Family and friends of James Lanier gathered Friday night in Wallace for a prayer vigil full of pain.

Lanier was killed exactly a week ago authorities say, by a Wallace police officer right outside of Express Mini Market after they say a call came in from the store owner about Lanier being naked and disturbing customers inside.

Lanier’s sister, Yamaneka Brice says, “For this to happen to an unarmed and naked man, where was the threat?” Brice said.

Shortly after police got there, the owner said Lanier charged at the officer, who allegedly tased the 34-year-old first. Moments later, the owner said three shots rang out.

“Come on man, regardless of the situation we have to do better,” Brice said.

Many spoke on Lanier’s behalf during the vigil, most notably Brice who says her brother didn’t deserve to die because he dealt with mental health issues.

“Life happens, but he was a good person at heart,” Brice said. “He had good character, it’s just unfortunate that he also had mental health issues.”

Brice says it took the Wallace police chief four days to give their family any information about the shooting, which Duplin County NAACP president Nicholas Green says is unacceptable.

“We definitely need that video released as soon as it’s available to be released,” Green said. “This family needs peace.”

And despite no answers, Lanier’s family remains strong in his memory.

The SBI has been called in to help with Lanier’s death, but the family says they’re calling for District Attorney Ernie Lee to release body and store camera footage from that night when the investigation is over.

We’ve reached out to Wallace police since the shooting happened, but have not gotten any answers.