Council Debates Handling Of Police Video From Franklin Shooting

Apr 23, 2019

A judge in Charlotte Tuesday morning will consider whether to order the release of an additional nine minutes of body camera video showing the police killing of a Charlotte man a month ago. Monday night, city council members agreed the video should be released, but had differing views on how they came to be shown a longer version of the video than Charlotte Mecklenburg Police released.

Last week, the Charlotte City council was allowed to see 11 minutes of video from the body camera of officer Wende Kerl. She is the officer who shot and killed 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin outside a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road.  

Braxton Winston
Credit David Boraks / WFAE

But CMPD submitted just 2 minutes and 20 seconds of the video to a judge, who approved releasing it. Council member Braxton Winston criticized CMPD and its lawyer for that decision.

"An entity or a lawyer who was truly committed to ensuring the transparency and accountability of our police department would have presented the full tape to the judge. That's such a flagrant skewing of the evidence in this case," Winston said.

Winston said the decision calls into question how CMPD has handled police video going back to 2016, when a state law was passed requiring a judge's order to release police incident videos. Winston said the city should lobby to repeal the law, or even challenge it in court.

"Local law enforcement and the policies that govern them should be under local control. This law prevents all parties, the city attorney, the city manager and Charlotte's elected officials from effectively doing our jobs," he said. 

Winston also called for creating a council committee to modernize and change the culture at city hall, which he said is stuck in the traditions of the past. He didn't give specifics.

Mayor Vi Lyles spoke at Monday's council meeting.
Credit David Boraks / WFAE

Mayor Vi Lyles called it a mistake that the council was shown the full video last week.

"You know, sometimes you do things with the very best of intentions and it just doesn't work out that way. And sometimes people make mistakes. It's not necessarily with a negative intent or an intent to corrupt the system but sometimes it's just a mistake," Lyles said.

But the mayor disagreed with Winston's call for sweeping changes at city hall and immediate repeal of the police camera law.   

"I think all of those are noble objectives. But the first and foremost thing is to actually resolve what we're dealing with right now today," Lyles said.

"What's most important now is this investigation, criminal and internal, takes place."

Council members Matt Newton and Dimple Ajmera said during Monday's meeting that the city should seek to restore trust by calling for an independent investigation of the Franklin killing, by the state Bureau of Investigation.

Newton prefaced his comments by repeating the story of how his brother was killed six years ago in a police shooting. 

"And I know what it's like. I know the pain, the grief that that families go through. I went through it myself and there is a lot of questions to be answered here," Newton said. "We will not get many of the answers to the questions we have until the investigation is complete. Unfortunately, it's not subject to independent oversight from an agency like the SBI. I think that's something we should look into as a council here moving forward."

The judge Tuesday morning will consider CMPD's petition to release the additional video and whether to dismiss a complaint that the department improperly withheld the longer version.