NEW BERN — A Henderson man will serve 21 years in a federal prison for his role in a 2019 carjacking and the shooting of a Raleigh police officer, a judge ruled this week.
Cedric Jamal Kearney, 26, pled guilty in 2020 just before the start of the COVID-19 to charges of carjacking and aiding and abetting, using or carrying a firearm in a crime of violence, and possession of stolen firearms, court records and federal prosecutors said.
His sentencing came on Thursday, in a New Bern federal court with U.S. District Court Judge Louise Flanagan presiding. She said Kearney would have to serve 14 years on the carjacking and stolen-firearms charges, and then another seven on the use-of-a-firearm charge.
When released, he’ll also have to serve three years of probation.
Kearney was the last of four people sentenced in connection with a Jan. 9, 2019 incident that led to the shooting of Raleigh Police Department Officer Charles Ainsworth, who survived after being wounded twice.
“Today was a good day for both the Ainsworth family and the justice system,” Acting U.S. Attorney Norman Acker said after Flanagan handed down the sentence. “The court sent a very clear message that these type[s] of assaults on law enforcement simply will not be tolerated.”
Prosecutors said the incident was the culmination of a crime spree that began on Jan. 4, 2019 when Kearney and a co-defendant, Sherry Marie Richmond, robbed a man of his car keys and cell phone.
Five days later, Kearney was part of a group that broke into a Holly Springs apartment, where they stole guns and shoes. That same night, Raleigh police learned that someone reported seeing a stolen vehicle in a neighborhood off Interstate 440 just west of N.C. State University.
On arriving, they saw Kearney and another man getting into the vehicle and ordered them to stop. One did, but Kearney fired a gun at police and fled.
Body cameras “captured the harrowing incident in its entirety,” prosecutors said, adding that authorities found Kearney hiding in a nearby shed “still in possession of the gun used to sho[o]t Officer Ainsworth.”
Kearney received by far the longest prison sentence of anyone charged in the case, even after prosecutors dismissed conspiracy and theft-of-firearms charges against him as part of his plea deal.
Federal court records indicate Richmond and two other people, Amonie Shateas Fletcher and Antonio Dequan Fletcher also faced charges in connection with the incident.
Richmond pleaded guilty in August 2020 to a charge of possessing stolen firearms, and on May 13 was sentenced to serve 4¾ years in prison followed by three years of probation. Prosecutors as part of the dealt agreed to dismiss carjacking, conspiracy and firearms-theft charges against her.
Antonio Fletcher, who like Kearney was arrested shortly after Ainsworth’s shooting, in January 2020 pleaded guilty to possession of stolen firearms and the following October was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and three years of probation.
Amonie Fletcher in October 2020 received a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in January 2020 to a firearms possession charge. Like the others, he also faces three years of probation. Prosecutors dismissed a theft-of-firearms charge against him.
Contact Ray Gronberg at email@example.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.