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Board rules substantial evidence CMPD erred in probe of officers who handcuffed wrong woman

Jasmine Horne (right) with her attorney Darlene Harris.
Sarah Delia
Jasmine Horne (right) with her attorney Darlene Harris.

The Citizens Review Board voted 9-0 Wednesday night in favor of a Charlotte school teacher whom Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers handcuffed after they misidentified her as a suspect of a violent crime. While the ruling is not a final determination in the case, it’s a significant victory for Jasmine Horne, the woman officers wrongly detained. There will now be an evidentiary hearing to further investigate the actions of the officers.

Before the hearing, attorney Darlene Harris was bracing her client Jasmine Horne for defeat.

“I feel confident in my client’s case, I feel confident in what we have to present, I just don’t necessarily feel confident in the system,” Harris said.

Harris said her strategy was to let the truth speak for itself and hope for a just outcome — some form of accountability against the officers involved.

But to explain how we got to Horne’s victory, we have to go back to last summer. That’s when Horne filed a complaint against the officers shortly after the incident in June. CMPD conducted an internal investigation but found the officers acted in good faith based on the information they had. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings earlier this year on WFAE’s "Charlotte Talks" backed up that sentiment:

"They didn't feel like they had the right individual, and as soon as they investigated that, they corrected those actions,” Jennings said. “So, I can’t fault the officers for looking for a violent criminal who had just committed a very serious crime and responded to that."

Horne previously said she prayed for her life during the incident.

“I was reflecting on myself, like all the things that I could have done that I put on hold because I said I will have more time,” Horne told WFAE in June of 2021. “And now I'm not going to have any more time and I'm just going to be another Black woman, another Black person killed by the police."

So, Horne appealed CMPD’s finding to the Citizens Review Board.

The meeting was public for less than six minutes before members went into a closed session. Board Chair Tonya Jameson explained the board was given access to the internal affairs file of Horne’s case prior to the hearing. Everyone besides Horne and Harris was asked to leave the room.

Harris and Horne presented their case to the board, but couldn’t discuss the details of what was said. They had to sign nondisclosure agreements before the hearing. But they could discuss how they thought it went. Harris likened it to David vs. Goliath.

“David might lose this time, I think the process is a little bit confusing because the review board knows a lot more than I do when I go in,” Harris said. “It’s like talking to a jury that has more information than you do. And I think it’s interesting how much people protect law enforcement. I think that people protect law enforcement more than law enforcement protects us.”

CMPD then gave its presentation with Horne and Harris out of the room. CMPD declined to comment for this story. CMPD previously stated there was an ongoing internal investigation to determine if any policies were violated in entering Jasmine Horne's name into the License Plate Reader system, but has not answered questions about the status of that investigation.

The board came back in open session to announce its decision. It was a unanimous 9-0 vote in favor of Horne.

There was no discussion of why the board reached its discussion.

Harris, Horne, and her mother looked shocked as the decision was read. They exited the room quickly.

“I always thought the facts were on our side but you get very used to people deciding otherwise because you are in a situation with law enforcement, it’s hard for people to hear the facts,” Harris said. “So I'm thankful that the review board was able to put any bias and favor of the police to the side and make a decision.”

This has not been an easy road for Horne. It’s taken an emotional toll and she’s still dealing with the trauma from that day. But after the board made its decision to move forward, she seemed at peace with her decision to pursue this appeal.

“If you know you’ve been violated in some way whether it’s the police or anything in general don’t be silent, speak up,” Horne said. “You never really know what comes out of speaking up for yourself.

The board will conduct an evidentiary hearing on May 12 giving both sides some time to prepare for the next step.

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Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.