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Activists: Officer Who Shot Franklin Must Be Charged

Activists say the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who shot and killed 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin in March must face charges, and are calling on police and others in power to initiate long overdue cultural changes.

The activist groups Charlotte Uprising, Southeast Asian Coalition and Seeking Justice Charlotte issued those calls Wednesday outside the north Charlotte Burger King where Franklin was shot by a CMPD officer, identified as Wende Kerl, in March.

"We want to see her charged, we want to see her indicted, and we want to see her go to jail for what was done to this man," said activist Kass Ottley. "There was no use of de-escalation. There was no use of negotiation. There was nothing really said to try to diffuse the situation."

Other activists, including Myka Johnson, said police and other city leaders have failed to initiate changes following past high-profile police killings, including the 2016 shooting of Keith Scott, which sparked citywide protests.

"I don't trust the police department. I don't trust Chief Putney. I don't trust Mayor Vi Lyles," Johnson said. "They are protecting police who continue to murder, steal, and terrorize our communities."

"You told me to ..."

The circumstances surrounding the shooting still remain unclear weeks later. Police have said they were called to the restaurant on reports of an armed man who was threatening an employee.

A woman who was in the restaurant at the time told 911 dispatchers that a man entered and "walked behind the counter to fight an employee," and later said the man was armed.

Another witness, who identified herself as Precious Robinson, told The Charlotte Observer she was sitting in the drive-thru when the incident unfolded. She said an armed man threatened a woman inside the restaurant, and another man tried to help her. She said police later shot the second man, who she believed was unarmed.

Body-camera footage of the incident showed officers arriving outside the Burger King and finding Franklin kneeling beside a car. Officers are heard telling Franklin dozens of times to "put the gun down."

The video shows Franklin producing a handgun, holding the barrel pointed toward himself, and appearing to lower it toward the ground when Officer Kerl fires two shots.

As Franklin collapses, he seems to be heard saying, "You told me to ..."

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department confirmed Wednesday that neither Kerl nor the other officer in the video completed Crisis Intervention Training, which prepares officers to interact with people in crisis or with mental illness.

Police and city reaction

Since the video's release on Monday, Police Chief Kerr Putney and other city leaders have been meeting with residents at community forums around the city.

While appearing at a forum on Tuesday, Putney said the footage was "one of the most troubling videos I've seen."

"I'm happy that there are many levels of accountability," he added. "I'm not going to defend a thing. That's not my job. I'm not going to defend the officer's action. I'm not out there to villify Franklin."

Later, when questioned by reporters outside another forum Tuesday evening, Putney said he did not plan to release any additional footage of the shooting, beyond Officer Kerl's body-camera video.

He also said he hopes to have the department's internal investigation of the incident finished by next Friday, April 26. Following that, the district attorney will decide whether to press charges against the officer.

Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal