Franklin 'Did Comply And He Still Got Shot': Activist Robert Dawkins Responds To Full Video
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police released additional video from the body camera of the officer that fatally shot 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin last month. Robert Dawkins with SAFE Coalition NC joined WFAE’s Sarah Delia to discuss the additional footage.
In the 11 minutes of footage, which shows what happens after the shooting, CMPD officer Wende Kerl can be heard saying she had no choice but to shoot Franklin because he would not drop his gun.
It also shows Kerl saying Franklin’s gun was in his jacket before he moved his hand to pull the weapon out. Kerl shot him, as Franklin seemed to be holding the gun by the barrel with the butt facing outward and not pointing at the officers.
[Related Content: CMPD Releases Full 11-Minute Video Of Danquirs Franklin Shooting]
In the additional footage, no officer can be seen giving Franklin medical attention. Almost four minutes pass before medical personnel arrive to administer aid to Franklin. It’s not clear why officers do not attempt first aid.
Sarah Delia: So, we know that you've been following the story and you've watched the video. What stands out from your point of view with this extended footage that we got to see yesterday?
Robert Dawkins: Well, you covered it right on point in the story. We did not see any aid given after Mr. Franklin was shot.
The reason that's troubling is that the officers cared more about the mental state of officer Kerl than they did the physical state of Mr. Franklin.
Delia: Do you think there's any big takeaways besides the issue of aid — which is a big one, of course — but are there any other issues that come to light watching this extended footage?
Dawkins: Yes. There is this first responder training given all police officers. I think it's 12 hours that they have to go through before they're actually on the force. So, I think there was a dereliction of duty that the officers did not try to render any aid.
I mean just to give you an example — in CMS when we had the Butler High School shooting, none of those people are officers. But the teachers that rendered aid immediately. Charlotte has shut down night clubs and bars for people being shot and then all of those cases, the staff rendered aid immediately.
And to see the police department be more concerned about the mental health of their officer, than providing care for someone that's bleeding really is something I don't think I'll be able to get over.
I think the chief said the officers are trained in small amounts of stuff during their first responder training, like how to apply a tourniquet. Well Mr. Franklin was bleeding. Why didn't you try to apply a tourniquet if that's all you know how to do?
Delia: Well, CMPD says it's trying to get officers crisis intervention training and stating that it's not mandatory right now, but that 47 percent of patrol officers and patrol sergeants have been through the program. Do you believe that this training is a priority for the department?
Dawkins: No, I don't. I believe that they could have moved faster on CIT training. But on top of that, I don't see where the CIT training has been effective. I do not see where the city has moved even past and gone a step further than the CIT training. Now they've spent $3.5 million to partner with a psychologist and a psychiatrist that are supposed to be out on the scene with officers. I asked the chief about why weren't there any of those people deployed to try to diffuse the situation, and he said that it's been bogged down in getting contracts.
Something else that I see that CMPD's been working on since 2016 that looks to be failing is predictive policing, where they're going to look at officers and see what patterns they have to say is this person capable of breaking department policy. But if you look at it, Officer Deal has broken policies repeatedly. So, faith in their predictive policing, faith in their CIT, faith in this new program that we just $3.5 million on — I don't have any of that anymore.
Delia: Well, some members of the community have called for criminal charges against Officer Wende Kerl. What's your position on whether charges should be brought forth?
Dawkins: I wish I was a district attorney. If I was a district attorney, I would bring those charges. I don't know if it would hold up in court because the legal system is skewed. Ever since the Supreme Court passed Connor vs. Graham, it set a precedent to where the only thing that officers have to prove is that subjectively they acted in accordance to what any other officer would do in that same situation.
Since we believe that police departments around the country are always in fear of black people or people that have bought into systemic oppression, there is no way that we're going to most likely get any convictions. The law was written subjectively to make sure that the officers face no time.
Delia: CMPD and Chief Kerr Putney have been working on getting the public's trust back, particularly in minority communities since the officer-involved shooting of Keith Scott in 2016. Have we gone back to square one with building that trust and how CMPD and the city have handled the aftermath of this latest officer-involved shooting in Charlotte?
[Related Content: What We Know About The Shooting Of Danquirs Franklin]
Dawkins: Well, I don't think much trust was built even during that process. It was great to go to transparency, watch workshops to where the police department gave you a gun and a simulation and said look this is why we shoot people. That doesn't tell me that you're committed to not shooting people.
And then we moved on to Bridging the Difference. When they started Bridging the Difference, it was supposed to be a two-way conversation. All of the Bridging the Differences focused on how African-American males could interact with the police better. How maybe if the community worked with them, they would be less victims of crime. There was never a time where CMPD put officers out there to say this is something that we did wrong. Here's what we learned from it.
And there's a whole slew of officers that CMPD could use that are before the Civil Service Board, the Citizen's Review Board that could've actually sat there and said this is how the police department does wrong, and not just how the community does wrong. So, I think all of this is just to placate people and not to bring about real change.
Delia: Well, how do we bring about real change and how is that trust restored?
Dawkins: So one, we've got to see actions speak louder than words. My grandfather used to have a saying, "I can show you quicker than I can tell you." So, it's gonna be more than just walking in the street and saying look this is why we have to shoot you. This is why because police officers want to go home safe at night. Well, the people in my community want to go home safe at night, too.
I do not think that there is a full wholehearted effort to bridge this difference. It's to convince people if that there is no difference if you just comply. This is an example of where Mr. Franklin did comply, and he still got shot.
The report that you did was right on point. Instead of hearing the officer's saying "Drop your weapon. Drop your weapon." But the gun was in his jacket pocket. So, how is he going to drop it without going into his pocket?
We would like to see some changes right off the top. We would like to see the police department change the standard to use lethal force from objectively reasonable to only being able to use excessive force when absolutely necessary and all other forms of deescalation have been used.
We would also like to see that policy add in what's called a "duty to intervene." What we saw was that officer Kerl continued to say "Drop your weapon. Drop your weapon." The other officer on the scene, officer Deal, that we know has a history, should have been able to say, "Hold on a minute. I don't see a gun. We need you to raise your hand. We don't want to shoot you." And that would have been duty to intervene.
We found a duty to intervene. What we did see was let's intervene to care for our officer — that this was traumatic for her, but it was life-ending for Mr. Franklin.
[Read More Community Reaction: Activists Call For Firing Of CMPD Officer, Independent SBI Investigation Of Franklin Shooting]