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Attorneys seek answers months after North Carolina man fatally shot by deputies in standoff

A trio of attorneys asked for transparency on Thursday from a North Carolina sheriff’s office months after a man who set his own car on fire was fatally shot by deputies.

The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said deputies believed Matthew Oxendine, 46, of Red Springs was pointing a gun at them when he was killed on Jan. 10, news outlets reported at the time. The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation determined that the weapon was a toy gun, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

“Why did it happen? Why did they take his life that night when it didn’t need to?” attorney Bakari Sellers said at a news conference on the steps of the Robeson County Courthouse. He demanded that police hand over the pathology and autopsy reports as well as the names of the officers who shot Oxendine, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

“We want to see transparency and accountability. We want … the world to see what happened that night. And then, the officers who committed those acts to be held accountable, for this county to understand what happened so that it doesn’t happen again,” Sellers said.

The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Thursday.

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies were responding to a 911 call from a home in Pembroke when they discovered that Oxendine had set the car he was sitting in on fire. As they tried to coax him out of the burning vehicle, Oxendine told them he had a weapon and had served time in prison for shooting at police. Officers on the SWAT team arrived and said he pointed what appeared to be a firearm at them before they opened fire.

N.C. Department of Public Safety records show Oxendine served five years and eight months in prison for assaulting a law enforcement officer with a firearm in 2008.

Sellers questioned the official description of what happened, but has no video to contradict it. He called on the sheriff’s office to equip its officers and vehicles with cameras.

“We know that the timeline that they gave you is not accurate,” he said. “We know that there was no bodycam, no dashcam. We know the answers to those, but that doesn’t get us closer to the final goal.”

Asked if an accurate accounting of the events would bring closure to the family, Greg Oxendine, Matthew’s brother, said no.

“At the end of the day, there will never be closure,” Greg Oxendine said. “Matt’s gone. We’ll never get that back, so how can there be closure?”

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