North Carolina

No charges against ICE agent for shooting man who hit him with car, DA says

A federal agent won’t be charged for shooting a man outside a Charlotte bar last August after the man hit the agent with his car, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said Monday.

Special agent Jose Dugger, who killed 30-year-old Donald Janvier on Aug. 25, worked for Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that focuses on cross-border crimes such as human trafficking and drug smuggling.

It would be impossible for prosecutors to prove that Dugger didn’t act in self-defense when he fired a single shot through the car’s windshield, hitting Janvier in the neck, the district attorney concluded.

“The evidence supports the conclusion that when Special Agent Dugger fired his weapon at Mr. Janvier, he was standing in front of the decedent’s moving vehicle, had already been struck and injured by the vehicle and was unable to otherwise extricate himself from the situation,” Merriweather wrote to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

ICE didn’t immediately respond to The Observer’s emailed questions Monday afternoon.

Merriweather’s report gives this account of the shooting:

On the night of the shooting, state Alcohol Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations agents arrived at Tropix Bar and Lounge on North Tryon Street after being told two rappers with gang ties were performing there.

Before the agents’ arrival, witnesses told investigators, Janvier had retrieved a gun from a car after an altercation inside the club. Agents were walking toward the bar when the owner told them Janvier had a gun.

The agents “attempted to make contact” with Janvier, who returned to his car and ignored commands to stop. As Dugger walked in front of the car, wearing a green vest lettered with “POLICE,” the Chrysler sedan accelerated and moved about half the length of its parking space, hitting Dugger. The agent fired once through the windshield.

Dugger told investigators that he had not heard Janvier start the vehicle because of background noise. As he crossed in front of the vehicle with his gun drawn, he said, the car accelerated and hit his left knee and forced him onto its hood. As he sprawled across the hood, he said, the car accelerated again and he fired.

Janvier got out of the car and cursed officers for several seconds, then fell bleeding to his knees. Dugger suffered a broken thigh bone and told investigators he might also have a knee injury.

Dugger told investigators that, when he fired, “he was scared and believed that the decedent was going to run him over.”

Two other agents who witnessed the shooting gave similar accounts to investigators. None of the three said they saw a gun on Janvier, but a loaded handgun was found in Janvier’s pants and ammunition, marijuana and a digital scale in the car, Merriweather’s report said.

Bruce Henderson writes about breaking news, emerging issues and interesting people for The Charlotte Observer. His reporting background is in covering state news, energy and the environment.


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