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Danquirs Franklin 'Shot For Doing What He Was Told' By Police, Family Says


Family members say they are disappointed that Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather decided not to prosecute the CMPD officer who shot and killed Danquirs Franklin outside  a Charlotte restaurant in March. They say Franklin was following orders when he was shot.

Family members say they're "utterly dismayed" at the way Franklin has been portrayed and describe him as a hard-working father of three children. The 27-year-old was shot by officer Wende Kerl on March 25 after she and another officer were called to a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road on reports that Franklin had been in the restaurant with a gun.

Merriweather announced last week that he couldn't prove to a jury that Kerl was "unreasonable in her belief that she faced an imminent threat of danger."

[Related: DA Won't Pursue Charges Against Officer In Franklin Shooting]

A Franklin family statement released by attorney Luke Largess says a domestic situation drove Danquirs to go to the Burger King. His former live-in girlfriend worked at the restaurant.

When police arrived, Franklin was kneeling next to a car. The door of the car was open, and the store's manager was inside. Police told Franklin repeatedly to drop a weapon – it wasn't visible at that point. Franklin did reach for the gun – but the barrel was pointed toward himself – and that's when Kerl shot him.

As Franklin collapsed, he could be heard saying, "You told me to …" Those words have been widely viewed as indicating he was trying to follow officers' orders to drop the gun. The only way Franklin could do so, the family says, was to "reach into his pocket and take it out."

The statement says Franklin was "shot for doing what he was told to do."

Even Merriweather, in a statement accompanying his decision not to prosecute Kerl, said Franklin's words were "a suggestion of compliance."

[Related: District Attorney Says Decision In Franklin Case Is Just]

"The investigation never uncovered the betrayal that so upset Danquirs that day," the statement says. "And the public does not understand that when the police arrived, the situation had already calmed, several witnesses had seen Danquirs put the gun away, and his hands were clasped in prayer with the store manager whom he had just tearfully embraced before police arrived."
The family says Franklin was considerate and helpful to others and took his life responsibilities seriously.

Attorney Luke Largess says the family is considering filing a lawsuit. Right now they are waiting for what will come of CMPD’s internal investigation.

"I don’t know that they particularly want to see the officer punished in some way but just for the department to understand and address that this situation should not have unfolded as it did," Largess said. 

Largess says the family doesn’t have a sense as to when the internal investigation will conclude. For now Officer Kerl is on administrative assignment. Officer Larry Deal, who responded to the scene with Kerl but was not wearing his body camera at the time of the shooting, is currently assigned to patrol.

In light of the Franklin family's sentiments, the DA's office offered this statement: "We understand why a family who has lost a loved one would be disappointed with this decision. At this time, we will let the report speak for itself."

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.