04/04/07 — Man convicted in officer's shooting

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Man convicted in officer's shooting

By Lee Williams
Published in News on April 4, 2007 1:46 PM

A Goldsboro man convicted last month on federal charges stemming from the March 15, 2006, shooting of a local drug agent will learn his fate this summer.

Bobby Rawlings, 59, of East Elm Street, was convicted March 27 on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and two counts of carrying a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime in federal court in Elizabeth City.

Rawlings is expected to be sentenced during the July term of the court. He is facing 35 years to life in prison, county drug officials said.

Rawlings charges stem from a shooting of Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad Commander Capt. Brady Thompson in the chest during the execution of a search warrant at his home on March 15, 2006.

Thompson was hurt, but escaped severe harm.

"Thompson's bulletproof vest prevented serious injury," U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding said. "Rawlings only stopped firing his weapon when his gun jammed."

More than a year has passed since the ordeal, but the memory still troubles him, said Thompson, 52, when reached at his office Tuesday.

"I don't have nightmares, but whenever we go out, it's always in the back of my mind that it could happen again," he said.

Thompson was wearing a bulletproof vest that day, but a bullet slightly wounded his chest.

Thompson, who is a Goldsboro police officer, was called to testify during the trial. He said Rawlings did not apologize for his actions.

Rawlings also faces an attempted murder charge in connection with the shooting. The case will be heard in Wayne County Superior Court.

Thompson said he is looking forward to putting the incident behind him, but he knows the memory of that day will never fade.

"Even though part of it is over, it will never be behind me because I have an ugly scar in the middle of my chest, and the attempted murder charge has not been disposed of yet," Thompson said.

Thompson hasn't wavered in his commitment of putting drug dealers behind bars. It is a commitment he has maintained for the past 18 years.

"A lot of people dislike us until they need us," he said. "We just try to go out and do our job to the best of our ability without offending or hurting anybody."

Rawlings, a multiple convicted felon, was stopped three months before the shooting by the Highway Patrol in Johnston County. Troopers allegedly found cocaine and a loaded semi-automatic gun in his vehicle.

The case, heard March 26-27, is part of the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods drive to reduce gun violence.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Goldsboro Police Department investigated the case.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle presided over the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Jackson, Project Safe Neighborhoods coordinator, prosecuted the case, Holding said.