Court bailiff killed in cycle crash

Published 7:38 am Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Lance Martin

HENRICO – Joe Magee, a retired correctional officer who was currently working as a bailiff for the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, died Monday afternoon following a motorcycle crash on River Road in Henrico.

“He was a fixture in the courthouse,” said Trooper D.P. Efird of the state Highway Patrol who investigated the crash that occurred shortly before 4 p.m.

Efird said a pickup truck was preparing to make a left turn onto Post Office Road when the crash occurred.

Magee, 67, apparently did not see that the truck was turning until the last minute. It appears he tried to avoid the collision with the rear of truck and laid his motorcycle down, but was thrown from the bike and became wedged between the bike and pickup. He died at the scene, Efird said.

Magee was known for diffusing a potentially deadly situation at the Northampton County Courthouse in July of 2006 when he fatally wounded an inmate who lifted a gun from a correctional officer and fired shots.

In that incident, inmate Willie Forrest became agitated after a ruling by Judge Alma Hinton. When officers went to subdue Forrest, he wrestled a weapon away from a Department of Corrections officer and began firing. Northampton Sheriff’s Deputy Corey Jackson grabbed the man and forced the gun into the air while Magee fired and fatally wounded Forrest.

Magee and Jackson were honored for their heroic actions in August of 2006 by the North Carolina General Assembly, then Northampton Sheriff Wardie Vincent, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners and North Carolina Governor Mike Easley.

Current day Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith said Monday evening that Magee’s death is a blow to the sheriff’s office, the county’s Clerk of Court office and the lawyers and other staff who frequent the courthouse.

“He was well known to the clerk’s office. He was a well-trained, true professional. It’s shocking,” Smith stated.

Smith said Magee had been out on sick leave since February but was scheduled to come back to work next month.

“The loss is just devastating,” he closed.

(Lance Martin is Editor and Publisher of This article is reprinted with his permission.)