Alleged cop shooter pleads to gun charge
By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 28, 2009 1:46 PM
A man accused of a weapons charge related to the shooting of a Goldsboro police officer has pleaded guilty in federal court, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a news release earlier this week.
Jerome Demond Wright, 26, formerly of Princess Street, pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm by a convicted felon in federal district court.
On June 8, 2008, just before 3 p.m., Goldsboro officer Clint Hales was allegedly shot twice by Wright during a traffic stop near the intersection of Elm and Creech streets.
Hales, although seriously injured, returned fire at Wright and struck him in the buttocks, police said.
On Oct. 20, facing U.S. District Court Judge Ter-rence Boyle, Wright pleaded guilty to the gun possession charge, which carries a potential 10 years in prison, followed by up to three years of supervised release and up to $250,000 in fines.
Wright could also face possible life imprisonment and up to five years of supervised release if the court designates him an "armed career criminal."
A sentencing date has been set for Jan. 18.
However, Wright still faces more serious charges locally in Wayne County Superior Court, including attempted murder, two counts of assault on a police officer and carrying a concealed weapon. He was also cited with marijuana possession at the time of his offense, authorities said.
Goldsboro police Opera-tions Maj. Mike Hopper said the local charges are pending and could be heard in court within the next two months.
In the meantime, Hales has returned to full-time duty, Hopper said.
"I think he's still going to have some kind of health concerns for the rest of his life," Hopper said, adding that Hales had returned to B-Shift within the last month.
The police major said he was pleased with the verdict out of the federal court system.
"I know Clint's looking forward to getting all this over with and moving forward in his life," Hopper said.
U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding noted in the news release that police officers face danger with every traffic stop.
"Each time an officer goes out on patrol he never knows what perils lurk," Holding said. "In this instance, a minor traffic stop evolved into a gun battle with the defendant."