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Charlotte Area News

Charlotte Observer: CMPD Officer Shoots, Kills Man

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot and killed a man during a struggle overnight in northwest Charlotte, police officials say. Killed in the shooting was Michael Deangelo Laney, 28, according to police. Authorities say Laney was shot and killed by Officer Anthony Holzhauer during a scuffle on Crestview Drive, off Beatties Ford Road. Police say Laney had tried to escape from police before the scuffle, then tried to pull out a gun while wrestling with Officer Ryan Shields.. Laney's relatives told reporters that police overreacted. During a morning news conference, police Chief Rodney Monroe said officers had no choice. "They were in fear for their lives," Monroe said. Police say detectives were working to solve an armed robbery June 25 on Beatties Ford Road, in which the victim was shot. Detectives say the suspect in that crime escaped on a red scooter. Monroe said detectives spotted a red scoter matching the description of the vehicle Monday evening in the Beatties Ford Road area but lost sight of the vehicle. Those detectives then informed third-shift Metro Division officers to be watching for the scooter. Shields, Holzhauer and the other third-shift officers went on duty at 10:15 p.m. and about an hour later, they spotted a red scooter on Beatties Ford Road. "The subject on the moped failed to stop, and he led police through the neighborhood," Monroe said. The pursuit went through several streets off Beatties Ford Road, south of the Brookshire Freeway. Finally, police say, the scooter driver stopped his vehicle at a house in the 2300 block of Crestview Drive. Police say the man, identified as Laney, lived there. Police and Laney's relatives agree that a scuffle broke out, as officers tried to subdue Laney on the front lawn. Monroe says Shields and Laney got into a wrestling match, and he says officers noticed Laney reaching for a handgun "from either his waistband or his pocket." Shields called for help from Holzhauer, Monroe said. "In fear for their lives, Officer Holzhauer discharged his firearm, striking Mr. Laney in the right temple," Monroe said. Laney's relatives told reporters at the scene that police overreacted. A man who identified himself as Laney's cousin said he watched the scuffle from the front door and said the shooting was unnecessary. Felisha Brown, who also identified herself as a relative of Laney, told WBT-Radio that officers had Laney's arms behind his back before the shooting. Monroe disputed that account, saying investigators had talked to witnesses. "We believe Mr. Laney was in control of his hands," the chief said during the morning news conference. "A part of the gun was in his hands." Brown told WBTV, "The police shot our cousin. They're supposed to protect and serve ... and don't." Monroe said he believes the officers had no other choice. "It just got to the point where the officer felt he had lost control of the situation," he said. "We're talking about a firearm. We very well could be here, talking about the loss of two officers." Laney's relatives did not discuss why he ran from police. Laney has been arrested at least twice by police, most recently last month. In that case, he was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a stolen firearm. Holzhauer has been with CMPD since January 2010. By coincidence, he joined CMPD the same day as Officer Joshua Baswell, who shot and injured Christopher Michael Fortson last week. In that case, police say Fortson tried running from police during the investigation of a home invasion. Police say Fortson turned and fired a shot at Baswell, who returned fire. Holzhauer has been placed on administrative leave, which is customary in cases when police use their firearms. Shields has been with CMPD since January 2009. "There is no glory in this," Monroe said. "I feel for the family. I feel for the officers involved. And I feel for the community." WBT and WBTV contributed