No charges for Washington County deputy fired in excessive force case

WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – An Eastern Carolina district attorney says no criminal charges will be brought against a deputy sheriff who was fired after allegations of him using excessive force were made.

Washington County Deputy Aaron Edwards was let go a week after he arrested Gary Thomas for marijuana possession back on March 2nd.

Family members say Thomas’ arrest quickly became violent with Edwards putting a knee on the man’s neck. In the cell phone video, Edwards can be seen dragging Thomas into the building. His aunt, Mary Moore, was arrested when she tried to intervene.

District Attorney Seth Edwards, who is not related to the former deputy, announced on Friday that there would be no criminal charges brought against the former deputy.

The D.A. cited a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in making his decision. “Graham v. Conner requires that I take into account the fact that officers are often forced to make split second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving,” said Edwards. “It was obvious this situation was only escalating, and every action taken by the deputy to de-escalate was met with resistance.”

Edwards said shortly after the deputy’s firing, he dismissed the criminal charges against Thomas and Moore “in the interests of justice,” according to a news release.

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