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DA Concludes Sheriff’s Deputies Acted Appropriately Regarding Inmate’s July Death in Avery Jail Cell

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 17, 2013. Five months after Walter Earl ‘Dood’ Pritchard died in his Avery County Jail cell, District Attorney Jerry Wilson concluded that officers with the Avery County Sherriff’s Office “acted at all times appropriately and within the law in this matter” after reviewing a required investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.  


Pritchard died on July 10, 2013. In the afternoon prior to his death, deputies with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office were called to Pritchard’s residence by an acquaintance or acquaintances of Pritchard, according to the release from the District Attorney’s Office.

“Upon arrival the officers found Mr. Pritchard apparently semi conscious and being treated by emergency personnel. After a few moments Mr. Pritchard regained consciousness and began to act in a very aggressive manner toward the people there. After initial, unsuccessful attempts to subdue Mr. Pritchard officers used tasers to stop his aggressive and erratic behavior,” the release states. “From that point, Mr. Pritchard continued to be at one moment passive and the next violent and aggressive. Each time officers used tasers to subdue him. While there, officers learned that Mr. Pritchard had earlier consumed a large variety and quantity of narcotics. Ultimately, after emergency personnel had finished, Mr. Pritchard was arrested. He went with the Avery officers peacefully and submitted to incarceration peacefully.”

The Avery County Sheriff’s Office brought Pritchard in on charges of assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct, according to a report in July. Pritchard then slept through the night and appeared the next morning to be coherent, talking and moving about, according to authorities. Detentions staff maintained “regular visual inspections,” according to Sheriff Kevin Frye. 

At about 12:32 p.m., Pritchard was “checked and was OK.” At 12:39 p.m., staff found Prichard unresponsive and medical assistance was sought, according the release. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

After reviewing all of the information including reports from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and Avery County coroner, District Attorney Jerry Wilson concluded, “The force used by them was not excessive under the circumstances and was employed to protect the emergency personnel and others present at the scene.”

Following his death, a Facebook page titled ‘Justice for Dood Boy’ was created and a rally protest was held in Newland for Pritchard. Family and friends declared that Pritchard, no matter what he previously did, should have received medical care following the multiple tasings.

Pritchard was survived by two daughters, a granddaughter and other family members. Click here for his obituary