Law enforcement officials closed the two right lanes of Interstate 540 East near the Leesville Road exit about 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Courtesy WRAL.
A 35-year-old Durham man being transported to a Winston-Salem psychiatric facility was shot and killed Sunday morning after, authorities said, he stole a Wake County sheriff deputy's cruiser and led authorities on a chase on Interstates 40 and 540 in Raleigh.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Jonathan Lee Cunningham had been involuntary committed to the Wake County Crisis and Assessment Center and was being transferred by Deputy Jeremy Pittman to the Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services.
About 9 a.m., Cunningham started fighting with Pittman on Interstate 440 near Lake Boone Trail, Harrison said. After pulling the car to the side of the road, both Cunningham and Pittman got out of the car and continued to fight.
Cunningham had been sitting in the front seat of when he began fighting with Pittman. Harrison said that in such cases, deputies can use their own discretion as to whether to use handcuffs or allow them to ride in the front seat.
A short time later, Pittman slipped in mud, allowing Cunningham to get into his cruiser and leave the area.
Responding law enforcement officials located the car near the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, and Cunningham then led authorities on a chase on westbound Interstate 40 and I-540.
He crashed shortly before the Leesville Road exit after traveling upwards of 80 mph, Harrison said.
Cunningham fled the scene on foot, and after another struggle with authorities, he was shot and killed, Harrison said.
The stolen cruiser was in the woods adjacent to the highway, and much of the area around the cruiser was blocked by crime scene tape. Eastbound I-540 was closed for several hours while authorities investigated.
Deputies Matthew Johnson and Dusty Mullen, both of the Wake County Sheriff's Office, have been placed on administrative duty while the State Bureau of Investigation investigates - standard protocol in an officer-involved shooting.
No law enforcement officials were injured in the incident, Harrison said.