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CMPD Officer Charged In Wreck That Killed Pedestrian

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

A Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle after he killed a pedestrian while responding to a call on Morehead Street last weekend. 

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said officer Phillip Barker was driving 100 miles per hour when he sped through the intersection of Morehead Street and Euclid Avenue just after 3 a.m. Saturday. His cruiser struck and killed 28-year-old James Michael Short as he crossed Morehead Street.

"You can exceed the speed limit, as a law enforcement officer, when you are on emergency traffic," Putney said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. "But you also have to do so with due regard for the safety of others. And that is the key trigger here in this case."

Barker was responding with other units to a report of a wreck at on Morehead Street. He was using his siren and flashing blue lights, and had a green light. But Putney said he was traveling too fast in the 35-mile-per-hour zone.

"This is a mistake of the head, though, not of the heart. The officer had the right intentions, but sometimes with youth, you don't have the experience, you don't have the knowledge, you don't have the time," Putney said.

Barker has been on the force less than two years and completed new officer probation only in the past couple of months.

He originally was placed on paid administrative leave, but that's been changed now to leave without pay while the case proceeds. 

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.