On November 2020, Fred Cox was shot and killed by a deputy dressed in plain clothes while attending a friend’s funeral at Living Water Baptist Church in High Point. The civil case against Michael Shane Hill and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department is a damning indictment that deserves to be read and reread.
The tragic nature of what occurred at Living Water Baptist Church back in November 2020 cannot be overstated. A young man’s funeral is a profound tragedy. But then having local criminals fire into the church as the funeral concluded added another awful layer to the day’s events. But then, on top of that, having a White Sheriff’s Deputy from a neighboring county open fire at a Black church and take the life of young heroic Fred Cox is an incredible miscarriage of justice that should have landed the deputy behind bars.
Triad City Beat has done an excellent job examining how the deputy that took Fred Cox’s life has had an unimpressive career in law enforcement and has bounced around from one law enforcement agency to another. But by in large, the High Point Enterprise and Greensboro News& Record failed to dig into Fred Cox’s case. National media has avoided Fred Cox’s murder.
A trial date has been set in a lawsuit filed by the mother of Fred Cox over the death of her son. Off-duty, Davidson County Deputy Michael Shane Hill shot and killed Cox outside of a funeral service in High Point. That was in November of 2020. Hill was not charged in the 18-year-old’s death. Investigators say rival gangs started firing at each other, and the deputy shot Cox because he saw him with the gun. However, the medical examiner never found any gunfire residue on Cox’s hands. His mother is now suing Hill. The case will be heard in federal court on December 4th, there in Greensboro. -DaVonté McKenith, WXII 12 News
Detective Hill’s reckless, unjustified killing of Fred Cox was an appalling act of violence that would not have gone unpunished if it had occurred at a predominantly White church. There is no evidence to substantiate Deputy Hill’s claim that Fred Cox possessed a firearm.
A crucial aspect of the shooting is that the drive-by shooting that caused young Fred and others to run back into Living Water Baptist Church occurred on the other side of the building. There was a two-story brick building between Deputy Hill and the actual shooters. What possessed Hill to shoot Cox as he and others took refuge in the church? Hill’s fog of war/friendly fire shooting of Fred Cox reflects institutional problems in the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.
I am familiar with the church building that Fred Cox was trying to enter before he was struck with four bullets to his body. My late grandfather was a deacon at that church when it was Brentwood Baptist Church. I visited that church many times as a child. I remember my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary reception being held there. The dwindling, old, Lilly-white Brentwood Baptist congregation sold the building to Living Water Baptist in 1999.
Fred Cox’s murder, beyond the tragic loss of a young Black man, is also a story about disinvestment, White flight, and the deprioritization of Black lives and communities. Fred Cox’s murder is another case that exposes a criminal justice system that is corrupt and unaccountable. The High Point Police department, SBI, and Guilford County District Attorney all failed to hold Fred Cox’s killer responsible. Fred Cox’s case is a terrible reminder that absent video evidence, justice is still denied to African Americans daily.
Multitudes around the globe have witnessed George Floyd’s heinous death. Fred Cox’s murder wasn’t captured on video. It failed to capture the media’s attention. And now, more than two years later, his family has not received justice.
I hope the civil case gives Fred Cox’s family some compensation for the loss of their son.
Civil Case Filed Filed 08/11/21
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