Body-Cam Footage Shows One Perspective Of Officer Involved Shooting
Monday, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department released body-camera video from an officer involved shooting from about three weeks ago. The shooting occurred in a Burger King parking lot in west Charlotte. Officer Wende Kerl , a white police officer, encountered 27-year-old Danquris Franklin, a black man. CMPD says Officer Kerl perceived a lethal threat when she fatally shot Franklin.
The video which is about 2 minutes and 20 seconds long starts with Officer Wende Kurl driving to the Burger King parking lot.
She quickly parks and moves out of her patrol car towards a maroon car in a handicapped parking spot. Along with another officer they yell for Danquirs Franklin to drop his weapon. A woman standing by Franklin appears nervous but unafraid. Officers tell her to step back and continue to order Franklin to drop his gun.
Franklin squats towards the front passenger side of the maroon car, the door is open and his left hand is between his legs, at that point you can’t see his right hand from the video.
Then things change. As the commands continue you can see his right hand, Franklin moves his right hand with what appears to be a gun. He does not aim it at the officers and it appears the butt of the gun is facing the passenger, with the barrel pointing at Franklin.
Another order comes from Kerl to drop the gun, it appears Franklin tries to. Kerl fires her weapon twice. Franklin sounds like he yells 'you told me to' while officers continue to command him to put down the gun.
Franklin is slumped over and Kerl approaches the car. The man in the passenger seat Franklin was facing is in sight. He identifies himself as the 'GM.' He is ordered to put his hands on the dashboard.
Kerl picks up the gun from underneath Franklin and the video stops.
The video seems to confirm that Franklin, in fact, had a gun, but what he was doing with it moments leading up to the fatal shooting remains unclear. Kami Chavis a professor of law and director of the criminal justice program at the Wake Forest University School of Law says there are still many unknowns.
"What was he doing at the time? Was he trying to comply with the officer’s command to drop the gun? What else was he supposed to do at that point?" she asked.
Chavis says while it doesn’t appear that the police necessarily did anything wrong in the video, she questions what was being done before Officer Kerl got to the scene.
"We don’t know how long the other officers had been on the scene. We don’t know what, if any, descalation tactics they had been engaged in," Chavis said.
So, while the video does show us the moments leading up to his death, it creates more questions. That’s what Robert Dawkins, the director of Safe Coalition NC says. Dawkins is concerned by the lack of descalation and he says, the lack of directions Franklin was given by officers.
"Was that set of commands the best?" Dawkins asked "Would it have been more ‘lay on the ground, put your hands up so someone can come to you, pick you up, get the gun away from you’?”
Dawkins argues when Franklin tries to comply he’s immediately shot.
As plans were being announced for protests in the city Monday night, it was hard not to think about the unrest in Charlotte in 2016 in the wake of the fatal CMPD shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Dawkins says he hopes the city will remain peaceful.
"I wasn’t pleased with what I saw in the video but that doesn’t mean that I want it to be another uprising in Charlotte because that didn’t accomplish anything," he said. "We are right back here at square one again. So that didn’t accomplish any change either."
At the same time Dawkins says there’s got to be a real policy change on how the police interact with the community when it comes to use of force. He added police can’t always be found justified in an officer involved shooting because they saw an imminent threat. That standard of review, that threshold he said, is starting to play real thin.