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Charlotte Area News

What We Know About The Shooting Of Danquirs Franklin

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CMPD
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Video of the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin on March 25 appears to show that a gun he was holding was not pointed at officers or a person next to him.

Updated April 25, 2019 

On April 15, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released body-camera video from an officer-involved shooting from March 25. The shooting occurred in a Burger King parking lot in west Charlotte.

Officer Wende Kerl, a white police officer, encountered 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin, a black man. CMPD says Officer Kerl perceived a lethal threat when she fatally shot Franklin. Many community members who have viewed the video argue Franklin was in the process of dropping his gun when he was shot. 

The portion of the video that was released confirms that Franklin had a gun, but there are still more questions than answers. Here’s a breakdown of what we know and what we don’t:

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What appears to be a gun in Franklin's right hand, isn't pointing at officers or the car's passenger.

What led to officer Kerl firing her weapon?

CMPD says that 911 calls were received at 9 and 9:01 a.m. The first caller said a person entered the Burger King, walked behind the counter with a gun, and pointed it at an employee. The second caller said a person approached her vehicle in the parking lot and "looked like he was pulling out a gun" but added that she didn't see it.

Kerl and another officer, Larry Deal, were dispatched at 9:02 a.m. to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon with no injury. 

A description of the individual was given to both officers over the radio and in addition, CMPD’s Real Time Crime Center was monitoring the call and directed the officers over the radio to his exact location. Body-cam video shows they arrived at the same time, with Deal's vehicle in front of Kerl's. They observed Franklin squatting next to an open front passenger door of a vehicle with a man in the passenger seat. The vehicle was parked outside of the main entrance of the Burger King. 

The footage shows Franklin with his left hand between his legs. He is told at least 24 times by both officers to drop his weapon. Franklin then moves his right hand and it appears that he is holding a gun with the butt facing the man and the barrel facing himself. 

Kerl — who CMPD says "perceived an imminent, deadly threat" — fires two shots at Franklin while his hand moves, striking and killing him. As officers continue to demand he drop the gun, it appears Franklin says to officers, “You told me to…” while he slowly slumps to the ground. Those appear to be his last words before he died. 

When Kerl moves toward Franklin’s body, she picks up a black gun from the ground. Franklin was transported to Atrium Health where he was pronounced deceased a short time later. 

Is there other video in addition to the body-cam footage? Why haven’t we seen it?

Following a judge’s order, CMPD released the full 11-minute video from Kerl’s body camera April 24. The footage shows what happens after the shooting as more officers arrive on scene. In the video, Kerl can be heard saying she had no choice but to shoot Franklin because he would not drop his gun.

But it also shows Kerl saying his gun was in his jacket before he moved to pull his weapon out:

"He had a gun. He wouldn't drop it. Then he reached in his thing [his jacket], pulled the gun out. We didn't know - we thought it was in the hand, and I shot him." 

In an earlier part of the video, Kerl and officer Larry Deal had commanded Franklin to drop his gun or put it on the ground at least 24 times before the shooting. Franklin seemed to be holding the gun by the barrel with the butt facing outward and not pointing at officers when he was shot. 

In the additional footage, no officer can be seen giving Franklin medical attention. Almost four minutes pass before medical personnel arrive on scene to administer aid to Franklin. It’s not clear why officers do not attempt first aid. 

Police Chief Kerr Putney addressed the lack of medical attention at a news conference before the additional video was released. He said that his officers need more training to give first aid.

"What cannot be more disheartening is watching the video, and we see a lot of them, and it appears that, but for training, we could have rendered more aid" Putney said. "I can tell you the specific video of Mr. Franklin is a good example."  

Putney has said there was no dash cam footage of the incident. CMPD has said that Kerl’s body cam footage was the only available body cam video that captured the shooting. 

From the extended video, it’s unclear if officer Deal had his body camera turned on.

About a minute after the shooting, Kerl says to him, “Do not turn off [your camera]. Are you on?”

Deal says, “I wasn’t, I didn’t — ”

Kerl then says, “I’ve been on the whole time.”

WBTV reports that according to metadata Deal’s two cameras, both were turned off on the day of the shooting. 

What has Chief Putney’s reaction to the video been?

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Credit Tom Bullock / WFAE
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WFAE
File: CMPD Chief Kerr Putney

At a news conference the day after the video's release, Putney said:

"This is one of the most troubling videos I've seen and the truth of the matter is, I'm happy that there are many levels of accountability. I'm not gonna defend a thing. That's not my job. I'm not going to defend the officer's actions. I'm not out there to vilify Franklin."

That night, Putney said other video would not be released because it would hurt the investigation.

What has been some of the community's reaction to this video?

The video sparked protests around Charlotte Monday night after its release. Protesters gathered in Marshall Park  — both to express outrage at the video and CMPD, and to remember the legacy of Danquirs Franklin.  

Rev. Rodney Sadler of Mount Carmel Baptist Church said enough is enough.

"It seems like far too many times we’re coming out to this park because we’ve lost another human life ... It seems the time has come for us to change the way that we react. It seems like now is the time for us to change the way that we treat black and brown people in the city of Charlotte, amen?"

Alexis Jackson, who said she was Franklin's cousin and spoke on behalf of the family, remembered his legacy:

"Danquirs changed lives, not just mine. He meant something to our family. He was a success story in our family."

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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Myka Johnson, a trans activist with Charlotte Uprising and the Southeast Asian Coalition, writes the name of Danquirs Franklin in chalk outside a north Charlotte Burger King where Franklin was shot by a CMPD officer.

Activist groups Charlotte Uprising and the Southeast Asian Coalition are calling for Kerl to face charges. Kass Ottley said this at a news conference outside the Burger King Wednesday: 

"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. There was no use of de-escalation. There was no use of negotiation. There was nothing really said to try to diffuse the situation."

Activists are calling on city leaders and CMPD to initiate what they see as long overdue cultural changes.

What's next in the shooting investigation?

CMPD says it has turned over the case to the District Attorney's office, which will then conduct its own investigation to determine if charges will be fined. That is expected to take about 90 days.

If the DA determines that felony charges are appropriate, the case is presented to a grand jury to consider indictment. If the DA determines felony charges are not appropriate, the officer is cleared of all criminal charges and the shooting is considered justified.

CMPD will also examine whether or not policies or procedures were followed. If they were followed accordingly, the officer is re-instated. If any policies or procedures were broken, the officer could be suspended, demoted or terminated and the case is heard by the Civil Service Board. 

Kerl was hired on April 19, 1995, and is assigned to the Metro Division. Per department protocol, Kerl has been placed on paid administrative leave during the duration of the investigation.

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CMPD headquarters

Did officers Wende Kerl and Larry Deal complete Crisis Intervention Training?

Neither Kerl or Deal completed Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which prepares officers to interact with people in crisis or with mental illness. When asked about this, CMPD said:

“CIT training is not mandatory, however 47 percent of our patrol officers and patrol sergeants have been through the program. For further context, if you look at the entire sworn department, we are at 36 percent of all sworn have completed CIT training (this includes all ranks). This is significantly higher than the national average of 25 percent. 

"We are continually putting on CIT classes and they are always full. The class takes 40 hours to complete. In terms of overall numbers, right now we have trained 627 officers. (That number is actually significantly higher, but we removed officers that have since retired so those are active employees.)”