HIGH POINT, N.C. — It's a case we've been following for seven months now.
High Point Police said Fred Cox, 18, was shot at a funeral in November by an off-duty, plain-clothed Davidson County detective.
This, following a drive-by shooting outside the church.
Today, the Guilford County District Attorney's office released an official statement on the Grand Jury's findings.
The detective will not be criminally charged.
Read the full statement here:
The investigation into the shooting death of Frederick Rodriquez Smith Cox Jr.
On June 1, 2021, after convening, the Guilford County High Point Grand Jury did not return a true bill of indictment in the shooting death of 18-year old Frederick Rodriquez Smith Cox, Jr.
On November 8, 2020, The High Point Police Department received multiple 911 calls regarding a shooting at Living Water Baptist Church located at 1300 Brentwood Street. Davidson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Shane Hill (Det.) was at the church attending the funeral service of Jonas Tramone Thompson Jr., who was murdered approximately two weeks prior in Davidson County. Det. Hill was actively investigating the homicide of Mr. Thompson Jr., and attended the funeral at the request of the family. He informed both his supervising officers and the High Point Police Department. The High Point Police Department requested the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) after learning of Deputy Hill’s involvement.
The Guilford County District Attorney’s Office was presented with the complete investigative materials from the SBI on May 10, 2021. Those materials included, but were not limited to, all the reports prepared by law enforcement officers and crime scene investigators (CSI) participating in the investigation, the recorded interviews with witnesses and persons with knowledge, and the medical examiner’s autopsy report. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Cox Jr. died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The Medical Examiner did not state the order in which the rounds entered Cox Jr.’s body.
There was no evidence presented that Cox Jr. was in a gang or that he discharged a weapon.
Upon reviewing the case, the decision was made to have the investigative findings of the SBI presented to the Grand Jury. Grand jury proceedings in North Carolina are not the same as in other states. 18 citizens are selected to be members of the grand jury. Grand Juries are secret in North Carolina. A grand jury is convened to hear evidence in felony cases and some misdemeanor offenses that are submitted to them by the DA’s office.
The prosecutor submits a charging document called a bill of indictment for the Grand Jury’s consideration. While the DA of the County prepares a bill of indictment, the investigating agency presents their findings to the Grand Jury body. The District Attorney is not permitted to present the case personally to the grand jury. Also, the accused person is not permitted to appear or testify before the grand jury.
Once the evidence is presented, the investigating officer leaves the room and the Grand Jury votes. They do not determine guilt or innocence, simply whether there is probable cause to sustain a charge. If 12 of the 18 members find that probable cause exists to support a charge, the foreperson then marks the indictment a true bill and submits it to the Court. The grand jury is the exclusive judge of the facts with respect to any matter before it (N.C.G.S. 15A-624).
On June 1, 2021, the Grand Jury was presented with two bills of indictment for Voluntary Manslaughter and Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury.
After hearing witness interviews and viewing the evidence investigated in this case, the Grand Jury returned two no true bills of indictment, finding insufficient evidence to support criminal charges.
The family of Fred Cox said they will file a civil lawsuit in response to the findings.
They will also hold a Freedom Friday protest on June 25 in High Point.
They released the following statements upon the Grand Jury's decision.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci have released the following statement:
“This shameful lack of accountability is something we see all too often when young Black men are unjustifiably gunned down by officers. Fred Cox was attempting to help his community, already in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one, when he was wrongly profiled by police and killed because of it. Law enforcement cannot continue to fire their weapons at Black people blindly and without consequence.”
Rev. Gregory Drumwright released the following statement:
“After law enforcement's investigation, and the secret convening of a grand jury, Fred's family still has no explanation as to why he died. Further, the criminal justice system here in Guilford County, North Carolina, has made it clear that they are no longer pursuing answers to what happened - and they are no longer pursuing justice for Fred Cox. However, the local community will continue to stand up for this family, Fred’s memory, and we will not stop demanding accountability for his killing.”
Davidson County Sheriff Ritchie Simmons said, “We’ve been taking the investigative process one day at a time. The judicial system has spoken and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office has had no part in the investigation.”
He explained the department did not take part in the investigation.
“We did what the law required and handed the investigation over to an outside agency and it did not find probable cause for charges,” Simmons said.