Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Dozens gathered Friday evening to remember and celebrate the life of 28-year-old Jonathan Ramirez, who was killed outside his Bailey home by deputies with Nash County Sheriff’s Office in February.
“Jonathan was fun-loving, wise and kind,” his fiancée, Olivia Lamm, told the crowd inside the church on Maudis Road in Bailey. “He always taught me to put others first. By helping others, you truly find who you are.”
She said Jonathan was a reflective listener who cared and loved his family, friends, coworkers.
“Rarely did he meet a stranger,” she said.
Lamm as well as Ramirez’s family said they’ve relied on their faith during the difficult and dark time. During the vigil, many wore T-shirts that read, “Justice for Jonathan “Jony” Ramirez.”
Nash County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Winstead, Deputy Stan Ricks and Detective Taylor Neal are the deputies who responded to an early morning 911 call reporting a sexual assault, sheriff’s office officials have said.
The deputies, who are back on duty, will not face charges in connection to the incident, the district attorney’s office told the Rocky Mount Telegram in mid-May. Ramirez was killed by Nash County sheriff’s deputies, who said they were responding to a possible sexual assault Feb. 9 outside Bailey.
The sheriff’s office said Ramirez refused to follow deputies’ instructions and pointed a rifle toward them, at which time the deputies opened fire. Ramirez sustained gunshot wounds and died as a result of his injuries.
The incident unfolded outside Ramirez’s home in the 1200 block of Maudis Road northeast of Bailey.
Ramirez’s family have disputed the sheriff’s office claims.
“Six months ago on this date, our beloved son and friend to hundreds of people was gunned down by the Nash County Sheriff’s Department,” Ramirez’s father, Jose, told those in attendance during Friday’s service, including members of the North Carolina NAACP. His wife, Francisca, was also by his side as he spoke. “Our entire life, our entire family was changed forever.
Jose Ramirez claimed that deputies trespassed on private property and rushed across the family’s front yard and positioned themselves in such a way where his son could not see who they were.
Jose Ramirez said there is a term called deer-blinded, where the spotlight is on you, but you don’t see them.
“Justified they say,” he continued. “How can it be justified when they violated the very oath they swore to serve and protect ... Jony was not a criminal. He was a happy guy. He was never sad. He always had a word of encouragement for everybody.”
Only one of at least eight body and dashboard cameras was turned on during the February deputy-involved shooting that left Jonathan Ramirez dead.
A State Bureau of Investigation official testified several months ago there was no body camera footage for Sgt. John Winstead, and although the footage was taken at the scene, the cameras of Deputy Stan Ricks, Lt. William Murphy and Detective Taylor Neal were not turned on until after the shooting occurred. Another deputy who was dispatched to the scene did have his camera on during the shooting. In addition, none of the patrol car dash cameras were in operation, according to previous reports. One car was not equipped with a dash camera, another was broken and the third was not turned on because the office did not activate his patrol lights, which automatically turn on the camera.
“It’s such a shameful loss of life,” Jose Ramirez continued to say through tears. “I don’t think I will ever get over it. Justified they say. They lied first, covered it up second. They don’t care about the facts.
“There’s not a day I don’t cry for Jonathan,” he said.