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Riley Found Not Guilty Of Shooting Durham Police Officer At Traffic Stop

A picture of a gavel on a document.
Brian Turner
Flickr Creative Commons


Updated Friday, August 14, 3:15 p.m.

Carlos Antonio Riley was acquitted Friday of shooting Durham Officer Kelly Stewart in the leg at a traffic stop three years ago. The jury convicted Riley of only common law robbery.

Riley, 24, is charged with robbery with a firearm, common law robbery, reckless driving, felonious larceny from a person, assault on law enforcement inflicting serious injury, and assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer. 

The defense argued Officer Stewart, who is black, pulled Riley over because Riley is black, and that Stewart shot himself in the thigh after an altercation. Meanwhile, prosecutors claimed Riley escalated the traffic stop and tried to leave before the stop was over.

The verdict comes after defense attorney Alex Charns submitted a subpoena for Chief Lopez. Charns wanted Lopez to testify about Stewart's law enforcement training. The Durham Sheriff's Office did not properly serve Lopez because the subpoena had expired before it could be delivered. The police chief did not testify at the trial.

Charns said he resubmitted a subpoena Wednesday in case the trial was appealed.

Original post, Wednesday August 12

Closing arguments start Wednesday in the case of Carlos Antonio Riley, 24, who is charged with shooting a Durham police officer at a traffic stop three years ago.


Police Chief Jose Lopez will likely not have to appear at the trial, despite a subpoena issued last Friday for Lopez to appear Monday morning.


Lopez did not show up to the trial, but multiple local outlets reported he was not properly served.


Superior Court Judge James Roberson found the subpoena for Lopez had expired and it was “not unreasonable” for the Sheriff’s Office to refrain from delivering it.


The defense requested Lopez's appearance to testify about officer Kelly Stewart’s law enforcement training and citations Stewart issued.


Riley is charged with assault on a law enforcement officer inflicting serious injury following a confrontation with Stewart at a traffic stop on December 18, 2012. During the struggle, Stewart, 29, was shot in the thigh. Stewart testified this week that he lost his badge, personal cell phone, handcuffs and gun, which Riley used to shoot him. Riley's defense team claims Stewart shot himself.

Riley’s attorneys argue he was pulled over because he was black, and Stewart did not follow proper police procedure by attempting to execute an illegal search and pulling the trigger of his gun.

Defense attorney Alex Charns said he resubmitted the subpoena at Wednesday's trial to Deputy Chief Larry Smith, and it is scheduled to be delivered upon the case's appeal.


Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
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