Family of Sylvester Demtrius Selby files suit over his death; Dare Sheriff and Deputy named as defendants

By on December 8, 2023

Sylvester Demtrius Selby. (Photo courtesy of Wukela Communication)

A little more than two months after he was fatally shot by a Dare County Sheriff’s Deputy, the family of Sylvester Demetrius Selby has filed a lawsuit naming the deputy reportedly involved, Edward Glaser III, as well as Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie, as defendants. The listed plaintiff is Legacy Spencer, the Administrator of Selby’s estate.

The suit was filed on Dec. 7 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the attorney representing Selby’s family is well-known civil rights attorney Harry Daniels. The claims being brought include a federal constitutional claim, Wrongful Death and Battery and Assault against the named defendants.

The initial information regarding the case came in a statement released shortly after the Oct. 2 incident by the Dare County Sheriff’s office indicating that Selby came at law enforcement personnel with a knife. The deputy involved was placed on administrative leave and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has been handling the investigation prior to sending findings to the office of District Attorney Jeff Cruden.

Selby’s family has been able to view the body camera footage privately of the incident and members contend that the death of the 44-year-old Manteo man was an unjust killing during a mental health episode. Selby’s family has stated that he suffered from diabetes and a thyroid disorder and was struggling with mental health issues in the wake of recent deaths of family members.

The Dec. 7 suit contends that “At the time, Mr. Selby was shot and killed by Deputy Glaser, he posed no threat to law enforcement, others or himself.” It also brings a new element into the account of the incident, the statement that Selby was suffering from a stab wound to the heart at the time.

In the chain of events outlined in the suit, the plaintiffs state that at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, a 911 call was made requesting medical assistance for Selby. It states that he exited the home in response to commands from law enforcement personnel. Noting the Selby was “holding a kitchen knife in one hand and an apple in the other in a non-threatening manner,” the account adds that he was also ordered to put the knife down, to which he replied “okay”  also raised both hands above his head.

Then, according to the suit, “as he was walking down the steps, Selby stumbled on the last step before reaching the ground,” and stumbled over a bicycle. “As Mr. Selby was falling,” it continues, “Deputy Glaser fired his weapon striking him,” from about 25 feet away. The account alleges that Glaser, who was yelling at Selby to stop moving, then shot him two additional times while he was on his hands and knees, leading to his death shortly thereafter.

The Dare County Sheriff’s Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the litigation.


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  • John Stevenson

    Well there you go, threaten society with reckless, criminal, threatening behavior and sue those protecting us from those very folks who don’t know how to behave as adults in society. And profit from misbehavior!!! Yup, I got it.

    Friday, Dec 8 @ 6:00 pm
  • Dan-O

    I’d have to see the evidence. It is hard to believe a guy “stumbling over a bicycle off a low step” would cause the cop to fire on the subject from 25 feet. That WOULD be pretty grossly excessive. Of course, I am sure the Selby family barrister is giving a true picture of the unfolding of the events, right?

    Friday, Dec 8 @ 7:11 pm
  • Waves

    @John Stevenson

    Please have some respect for Mr. Selby, and for the evidence of his innocence. Your comment is unkind.

    Friday, Dec 8 @ 7:36 pm
  • Concerned Citizen

    He is coming out for medical help and yet carrying a knife? How much sense does that make? He was given commands to drop the knife yet didn’t?

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 12:04 am
  • Tyrrell Johnson

    We (as in POC), all know how this story ends.

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 7:36 am
  • Johnny Allen

    He fought the law and the law won!

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 9:29 am
  • J R T

    At what age did you stop staying up late on Mondays, drinking, partying whatever, go to bed and act like a grownup?

    I know it’s a free country but we each make our own problems most of the time. Maybe if we aren’t up late causing headaches there are benefits to that decision. We try to teach kids about actions having consequences. Let’s keep that in mind.

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 10:21 am
  • disgruntled

    I’m in full support of Law Enforcement but mistakes do happen, and I find it helpful to realize that when I make them. I have no idea what happened here (or Elizabeth City), but we see body cam footage from all over the country shortly after many incidents.
    I don’t know the reasoning for this, but it seems the footage would easily support one of the claims, not releasing the body cam footage to the public is not a good look.

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 10:35 am
  • Look@See

    @Tyrell.. yeah we know how it ends when you fail to comply with lawful commands from an LEO.

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 11:25 am
  • Jay

    Did he drop the knife or just say “okay”?

    Shooting someone with a first shoot from 25 feet away while that person is falling sounds suspicious. Then shooting that person two more times while they are on their hands & knees is beyond belief.

    Dare County what is your story?

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 1:05 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    What I can tell you Jay is that the sheriff’s office has not made any comment about this case since its original press release (referred to in the story) right after the shooting itself.

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 3:03 pm
  • John Stevenson

    I was not being mean. Get over it. The truth is a difficult thing to handle these days. Our society enforcement is honorable and brave. That is the right side of this coin. Everything else was deserved.

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 10:32 pm
  • John Stevenson

    Who confronts law enforcement with a knife anyway?

    Sunday, Dec 10 @ 8:31 am
  • Jay

    Concerning the knife. How big was the blade? Did he have the apple and a paring knife in his hand? Or was it a butcher knife with a 12″ blade? I agree having a knife in your hand is a big mistake when confronted by any LEO. First shot at 25 feet sounds suspicious. Two more shots when someone is on their hands and knees is hard to understand.

    Come on Dare County release the body cam footage! No excuses because we see body cam footage on TV shortly after some shootings.

    Sunday, Dec 10 @ 12:15 pm
  • Laura Singletary

    The death of Mr.Selby is a tragedy. No man nor woman should end up dead after calling for help during a mental health crisis. My heart goes out to the family. Our first responders must not cause harm. I offer my sympathy to the officer who pulled the trigger. Our community must learn from this and put money and resources to mental health. We must be better and our deputies must serve and protect.

    Sunday, Dec 10 @ 7:58 pm
  • obxron

    Before we make comments about the “people who protect us” OR this fellow who may have had a “dangerous” knife. Let us SEE THE video to see the knife, the bicycle, the stumble the shooting and the follow up shootings. WHY is this being hidden if it supports the account from “people who protect us”??

    Sunday, Dec 10 @ 9:57 pm
  • Larry

    The family which loved and cared for him so much , knew better than anyone of his problems and mental heath issues yet did nothing to protect him from himself and the community he lived in. Maybe families like these should try working with law enforcement and social services in order to better understand these situations instead of suing after the fact…

    Monday, Dec 11 @ 10:36 am
  • Wondering

    “Selby was suffering from a stab wound to the heart at the time.”

    Talk about burying the lede. A stab wound to the heart is pretty serious. Where did that come from? No surprise that he stumbled after taking a knife to the chest. Was there some altercation that we are not hearing about?

    Also Mr. Editor, your summary is appreciated, but how about a link to the view the lawsuit?

    Wednesday, Dec 13 @ 8:45 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Fair enough Wondering, we will append a link to the story.

    Wednesday, Dec 13 @ 6:37 pm