Locust traffic stop leads to officer-involved shooting and state investigation

ALBEMARLE — A recent traffic stop initiated by a Locust Police Department officer resulted in a shooting-related hospitalization and now a full inquiry performed by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. 

On May 31 at 8:42 pm, a Locust patrol officer initiated a traffic stop of a car driven by Locust resident Michael Angelo Gales, 37, as a result of multiple traffic violations that occurred in the vicinity of North Central Ave. and Bethel Church Rd.  

In a news release, Locust Police Chief Jeff B. Shew said that after a full vehicle pursuit led to the Whispering Hills subdivision near Meadowcreek Village Dr. and Whispering Hills Dr, Gales exited his vehicle and exchanged gunfire with the officer.  

Following this sequence where Gales was shot, the Locust Fire Department and EMS were requested with emergency aid. Gales was then transported by helicopter to Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition. The involved Locust officer — whose identity has not been released at this time — was not struck by gunfire during the encounter.  

In accordance with LPD policy, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has been consulted to conduct an investigation into the incident as an independent impartial outside agency. Additionally, the involved officer was put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the SBI’s investigation as well as the department’s own administrative investigation.  

“Per our department policy regarding use of deadly/lethal force incidents, we requested the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent impartial outside agency investigation of the incident,” Shew wrote in an email. “Any more detailed information we are able to release about the specific incident, we will not do until the SBI completes their investigation.” 

The LPD is pursuing all applicable criminal charges against Gales for crimes committed throughout the incident and details of those charges will also be released at a later time; Gales had a prior arrest by the LPD this year where he was charged for resisting a public officer.