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CMPD chief should have disciplined officers who handcuffed teacher, review board says

Citizens Review Board hearing.
Sarah Delia
The Citizens Review Board met Thursday to decide whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg police erred in the events surrounding the detention of a teacher named Jasmine Horne in a case of mistaken identity.

Updated 9:58 p.m.

The Citizens Review Board voted 8 to 2 Thursday that disciplinary action should have been taken against the two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers who detained a teacher in June 2021 in a case of mistaken identity.

Before Thursday’s hearing, attorney Darlene Harris was nervous — and with good reason. The Citizens Review Board had only ruled against the police twice since its inception in 1997. The CRB is an advisory board that can make recommendations to the police chief but not enact any disciplinary actions itself.

"I’m feeling anxious, I really want the best outcome for my client," Harris said. "I think anytime before these, you kind of just do everything to prepare and hope that the message gets across."

The message Harris hoped to convey was that her client — 29-year-old Jasmine Horne was wrongly detained by police last June when they mistook her for the suspect of a violent crime and that the officers who took part in that incident, should have been disciplined.

The suspect police were looking for was also a Black woman who had a similar sounding name. During the incident, an officer approached her, his gun drawn. Horne was handcuffed, searched, and placed in the back of a police car, as she breathed heavily asking what was going on.

Horne initially filed a complaint with CMPD but an internal affairs investigation found the police acted in good faith based on the information they had at the time. So Horne appealed that decision with the Citizens Review Board.

Thursday’s evidentiary hearing, the second part in the appeals process, functioned much like a trial with evidence and testimony presented throughout the day. It was held in a closed session which meant media wasn’t allowed back into the room until it was time to announce how the board voted.

The board’s Chair Tonya Jameson read the decision.

In an 8 to 2 vote, the board found Police Chief Johnny Jennings erred in exonerating the two officers — the board found the officers should have faced some disciplinary actions, making this the third case the CRB has voted in favor of a complainant. Then the board quickly adjourned.

Attorney Darlene Harris couldn’t get into specifics about what was said during the hearing, but did say there were many missteps that occurred during the incident that were seen by the board.

"I think that to me it says that the error was so clear, that the issue was so bad that they just couldn’t rule any other way," Harris said.

The board will make both disciplinary and policy recommendations — but it’s up to the police to decide if those recommendations will be shared with the public. And the police chief does not have to take the recommendations unless he is overruled by the city manager.

After a full 8-hour hearing, both Harris and Horne were exhausted — happy — but clearly tired and worn from the hours of questions, evidence, and reliving that day last June.

WFAE was the only news outlet Horne agreed to speak to Thursday. There were a lot of feelings that came up for her during the hearing.

"Confusion, frustration on the incident and what happened and procedures that could been made that weren’t made and precautions before I was detained," Horne said.

And knowing that the chief could decide not to take any of the board’s recommendations, worries her.

"Nonaction is an action, people have to decide where they stand at the end of the day. They have to think about the kind of mark they are going to leave as leaders," she said.

And she says if someone finds themselves in a situation similar to hers, she hopes her story will inspire them to file a complaint in order to have a voice.

CMPD declined to comment for this story.

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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.