Sidwell statement regarding Dispatch article

The following press release was received this morning by Home in Henderson from Henderson Police Chief Keith Sidwell:

On Saturday, March 26, 2011 HPD officers responded to 115 Country Club Drive in the city limits of Henderson to find Donald Riggan, white male, 32 years of age deceased inside of his motor vehicle.

From initial investigation, the decedent appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

In all cases of death, whether homicide, accidental, or suicide, proper investigative techniques are followed to ensure thorough investigations and standards are met.

The newspaper article dated March 29, 2011 takes on the flavor of sensationalism and offers conjecture where there is none. Prior to the final print of an article the police department would appreciate it if the Daily Dispatch would read the entire document when reporters wish to write a story. The initial police report lists the cause of death as suicide. To use words like “at first” gives readers reason for pause.

The reality is that media is a business and must sell papers. The families and friends of the decedent must find closure in this difficult time. This press release is to inform the media and readers that any time a search warrant is filed; it is to preserve the integrity of the case. In the unfortunate situation where a person is deceased, it is standard procedure to list the offense under North Carolina General Statute 14-17, i.e. murder. There is no general statute for suicide; therefore the statute is utilized to retrieve evidence. The medical examiner always makes the final determination.

While the Henderson Police Department should not be the apologizing entity for this article, we thought it would be appropriate to step up since the reporter probably will not.