John Livingston, a 33-year-old dad of three, is dead today after he asked sheriff’s deputies who wanted to search his home at 3:40 in the morning to get a legal warrant. Now the family of the man who friends and relatives describe as a warm, loving dad and hardworking carpenter who built the very porch he was killed on, want to know why a Harnett County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s deputy shot him as he lay face down after being tased and beaten.
And as if Livingston’s death early in the morning hours of Sunday, November 15 was not painful enough to his family and neighbors, they say that the deputies — Nicholas Kehagias and another deputy whose name has yet to be made public — simply had the wrong man and the wrong house.
Watch a video report on the fatal police shooting of John Livingston by WNCN-TV at the bottom of this article.
Livingston, whose tearful 14-year-old son told WNCN News that his dad was his “best friend,” lived in a small trailer home with two roommates. But none of them were the person that cops were allegedly looking for on an assault charge.
In addition to his eldest son, also named John, Livingston had an 11-year-old daughter, Kandis, and an eight-year-old son, Cameron.
RIP John Livingston, killed in cold blood by Harnett County NC police raiding the wrong house w/out a warrant at 3am pic.twitter.com/39h8LFXYh2
— Eric Calhoun (@emc2birds1stone) November 17, 2015
The Harnett County sheriff’s office has offered little explanation for what happened that led to Kehagias shooting Livingston multiple times. The altercation reportedly began after Livingston told the deputies who asked to search his home “not without a search warrant.” He then closed the door on the foot of one deputy.
At that point, the few details offered by the Sheriff’s office in court diverge sharply from the account given by eyewitnesses, including Livingston’s roommate Clayton Carroll.
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The authorities claim that while standing outside the front door of Livingston’s home, Kehagias — who has been employed by the Sheriff’s department since 2013 — somehow dropped his Taser weapon, and that Livingston for some reason picked it up and Tased the deputy, a bizarre act that set off a physical struggle, ending with the deputy shooting Livingston at least four times as he lay face down on the wooden porch.
But Carroll says that official story is a fabrication.
“He did not drop the Taser, the officer never dropped the Taser,” Carroll told WNCN.
Instead, according to Carroll, after Livingston closed the front door, the deputies kicked it in and Kehagias attacked Livingston, throwing the man around wildly. In the course of the struggle, Carroll said, the Taser went off, and Livingston did have his hand on the weapon. But all of that transpired after the deputy broke down the door and started the fight.
“He wouldn’t have ever gone against the police like that,” a friend of Livingston’s, identified in a WRAL.com report only as “Pam,” said on Sunday. “There is just no way any of us are buying that. I mean, there are people that do and we know that, but that just is not who he was.”
Another neighbor, 51-year-old George Thomas, said that he was awake and heard four “rapid fire” shots.
“They shot the wrong guy for the wrong thing,” Thomas said in an interview with the Fayetteville Observer newspaper. “Wrong guy. Wrong house. Wrong everything.”
Though Livingston and the mother of his three kids, Jennifer Cardwell, never married, they were a couple since the age of 16, she told the Observer.
Per Harnett County: Nicholas Kehagias is Deputy involved in fatal shooting of John Livingston of Spring Lake. pic.twitter.com/084ff3ATfT
— Nate Rodgers (@NateWants2Know) November 16, 2015
“He was the greatest father you could imagine,” an emotional Cardwell told the paper. “So kind-hearted. All the kids around here loved him. John had the best personality. Where he went, he would light up the party.”
Court documents confirm that the deputies had no search warrant when they first arrived at the home of John Livingston, but they returned about six hours after the fatal shooting with a warrant and searched the home — but if they found anything, the deputies have not said what.
[Photo via Burial Expense for John Livingston GoFundMe]