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The SBI has taken over a police custody death in Fletcher

Fletcher Mayor Preston Blakely says he will continue to support the investigation of this incident.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
Fletcher Mayor Preston Blakely says he will continue to support the investigation of this incident.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations is overseeing the investigation into the June 15 in-custody death involving the Fletcher Police Department. A press release issued on June 16 by Police Chief Dan Terry says officers responded to a 911 call for help at an apartment complex on Seasons Circle in Fletcher. The caller advised 35-year old Christopher Hensley would not let her leave and was possibly on drugs. When they arrived on the scene, officers encountered Hensley and according to the release:

A fight began when Fletcher Police Officers contacted Hensley. Fletcher Police Officers requested additional assistance from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. After Hensley was handcuffed and taken into custody, he became unresponsive. Officers began C.P.R. and requested Emergency Medical Services and Hensley was transported to the hospital where he died. Two officers were also taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

A video recorded by a person on the scene and obtained by the Asheville Citizen Times, showed Hensley pinned to the street, surrounded by officers and yelling in pain.

The video ended with an unresponsive Hensley, limp and on his back, being given CPR by an officer. Another video obtained by the Citizen Times showed him rolled over on his side as law enforcement waited for EMS.

Fletcher Mayor Preston Blakely released this statement on Twitter.

“Tragedy has struck our community. I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate loss of life that occurred at an incident that involved officers from the Fletcher Police Department and Henderson County Sheriff’s Office,” said Blakely in a statement on June 20.

Blakely says that the video has also been turned over to NC State Bureau of Investigation. He says that he will continue to support the investigation of this incident.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.