DA Cruden says Dare Deputy’s actions were ‘lawful’ in March Colington shooting

By on May 28, 2024

District Attorney Jeff Cruden

Following the NC State Bureau of Investigation’s (SBI) completion of its investigation into the incident earlier this month, District Attorney Jeff Cruden has concluded that the Dare County Sheriff’s Deputy who shot a woman in Colington on March 17 is “clear of any wrongdoing in the case.”

In an email sent to Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie on May 24, Cruden wrote that the “actions of Deputy [James] Lange were lawful and in conformity with the applicable law in North Carolina on when the use of deadly force is permitted.”

As reported by the Dare County Sheriff’s office at the time, the incident unfolded on Sunday, March 17, at approximately 7 p.m. when the sheriff’s department responded to a call reporting the presence of a suspicious person in the area of Lake Court and Harbour Road in Colington, NC.

According to the sheriff’s department release, the caller stated there was a female with a knife on their property acting erratically. The responding deputy encountered the 49-year-old female walking down Harbour Road. The deputy made repeated attempts to talk to this individual; however, she would not comply with commands. At that point, the deputy deployed their taser and then fired their gun, striking the female. She was transported initially to The Outer Banks Hospital and did recover.

The Dare County Sheriff’s Office has subsequently confirmed that the woman, identified by the SBI as Jennifer Leight Tesner, was brought back to Dare County on April 26 and served with a warrant for assault with a deadly weapon.

In his email to Doughtie, Cruden also stated that Deputy Lange, who had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, “be permitted…to return to active duty without any limitations.”

To that point, a Dare County Sheriff’s Department representative said that Lange had already committed to move to another NC sheriff’s department at the time of the March 17 incident. Assuming he is returned to active duty by that department, he will be working there going forward.



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  • RicknKDH

    and the party line is of course… “We’ve investigated ourselves and found no wrong-doing.”

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 7:36 am
  • Mike Raphone

    Don’t go after law enforcement with a weapon, and nothing will happen.

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 11:28 am
  • WindyBill

    I normally do not have faith in ‘justice’ when a cop is innocent in a shooting. In this case, I don’t know anything else he could have done without puting extreme risk to himself from an armed deranged person. He did Not kill her. If anyone has a better solution state it here or let the Deputy go back to work.

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 2:28 pm
  • Edward

    Agree with Mike R.

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 3:12 pm
  • Jay

    Mike unless I’m missing something I haven’t read anything that confirms the deputy saw the knife or was threatened with harm. “The deputy made repeated attempts to talk to this individual; however, she would not comply with commands.” What were the commands? Was she brandishing the knife or just not complying to commands? Yes I see the charges are assault with a deadly weapon. Was the deputy assaulted?

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 4:45 pm
  • Wondering

    When I first glanced at the headline, I thought it said “awful” instead of “lawful.” In a way I am relieved to see the real headline. About the various Iaw enforcement investigations, I hope they are as rigorous as claimed but I sometimes might agree with RicknKDH. Maybe a good article for the voice would be exploring the investigation process in such matters. Should the law officials refuse a request for such an article, that would speak volumes.

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 6:49 pm
  • Mike Twiddy


    You are right bud. The deputy never saw a weapon but all of a sudden decided to shoot her? Lol my god. I literally think that has to be the most ignorant comment I’ve heard on here. I feel sorry for you

    Wednesday, May 29 @ 9:45 pm
  • Just Another Mike

    @Jay – There are plenty of other articles that paint the full picture of what happened. For whatever reason that was left out of this one. The lady had a knife, the lady threatened the officer with the knife, the lady was tased and when she still didn’t comply was shot by the officer in a way that was not intended to kill her. Was the deputy assaulted, yes, as assault is “intentionally causing someone else to fear imminent violence”. Perhaps you are asking if she actually physically put hands on the officer, no, that would be battery and she was charged with assault with a deadly weapon meaning you threaten to use it on someone. Officers have a right to defend themselves even if the person is having a “mental breakdown”. I would submit to you that anyone threatening harm against an office with a deadly weapon is having some sort of diminished mental capacity.

    Thursday, May 30 @ 9:31 am
  • Jay

    Mike T. like I said in my post I have not seen it reported here on the Outer Banks Voice the officer seeing the knife.
    Mark Jurkowitz has that fact been reported here?
    Mike T. & Just Another Mike are your sources?
    Have you 2 been following the pro golfer Scotty Scheffler story where the four charges against him: felony second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic have just been dropped?
    Sounds like here is example where the officer was wrong.

    Thursday, May 30 @ 2:44 pm
  • Liz

    The lady had a knife. What, do you think it was a butter knife? Might there be a reason her neighbor called law enforcement? From the original Voice story, “The caller stated that there was a female with a knife on their property acting erratically.” Do you, Jay, seriously think the officer didn’t see the knife, and wasn’t threatened? Please. Go back and read the story from March 18.

    Those of you who are criticizing the officer need to ask yourselves a couple of questions. Should he have approached her, thereby putting himself in danger of being stabbed? The closer you get to that knife, the greater the chances of being stabbed. After she was tased and didn’t comply, should she have just been let go with a, “Have a nice day ma’am”?

    I live on Harbour Rd. where this incident took place. Should she have been allowed to go on her merry way to come into my house, or my neighbor’s house while brandishing her knife? Or, given her mental state, she could have ended up slitting her wrists in the middle of Harbour Rd. All of you arm chair quarterbacks who weren’t there are awfully judgmental.

    Thursday, May 30 @ 4:34 pm
  • RicknKDH

    The DA refuses to release any evidence used as the basis of his findings to the public. Just try to FOIA the information. FYI, the greatest equalizer “We the People” have for interacting with the police is a cell phone camera. Police hate it because they can’t control it.

    Friday, May 31 @ 8:42 am
  • Jay

    Well as this thread fades into the archives I don’t see anyone posting a link to where the knife was reported as having been in the accused hands when she was confronted by the deputy.
    Closing time bar chatter at the Blue Crab of what happened in this case does not qualify as facts.
    My critics here have me wrong. If there was a knife the deputy should have shot to kill. That would have been okay with me.

    Sunday, Jun 2 @ 11:58 am
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