Judge to release Charlotte police shooting bodycam video

Police had refused to release nine minutes of tape

By Nicole Chavez, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

Still image from bodycam video of Charlotte, North Carolina police-involved shooting.

Charlotte, N.C. - A body camera caught the moment when a Charlotte, North Carolina, officer fatally shot Danquirs Franklin, recording a total of 11 minutes, but only a portion of the footage has been made public.

A judge ordered Tuesday the release of the full footage, more than a week after police provided a 2½-minute clip of the March 25 shooting to the Mecklenburg Superior Court, CNN affiliate WBTV and The Charlotte Observer reported.

The full version of the video is expected to be released by Wednesday afternoon.

Franklin's killing has sparked protests, criticism over the officers' behavior and also fueled questions about what authorities are doing to improve relations between police and the community.

The previously released clip opens with Officer Wende Kerl driving to the scene and continues as she arrives at a Burger King parking lot to find Franklin squatting beside a red Honda Accord with the door open. She and another office approach him, guns drawn, and begin telling him to drop the weapon or put it on the ground. Franklin's right hand slowly appears and Kerl shoots him twice.

The video goes on to show how Franklin appears to say something to the effect of, "You told me to..." before collapsing into the door and rolling on his side, onto the asphalt. The clip ends as Kerl leans down to pick up Franklin's gun.

CNN has reached out to the Mecklenburg Superior Court.

Charlotte Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera told WBTV last week that city council members saw an additional nine minutes of footage.

"We owe our residents the video that we as a council had an opportunity to view," Ajmera said.

Last week, police released the 2½-minute clip under a previous court order after local TV stations petitioned the court for the video. A WBTV reporter then filed a motion asking the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to explain why the full video was not released.

During Tuesday's hearing, Assistant City Attorney Jessica Battle said the police department had "acted in good faith" and released footage it believed satisfied the court order. Battle noted wording of the request had not indicated the release of the full video, only the moments "immediately after" the shooting, WBTV reported.

 

The shooting

 

On the morning of March 25, employees reported that a man came into the Burger King acting suspiciously and making employees feel uneasy, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said.

At least one 911 caller reported an armed man, telling the dispatcher, "He got a gun. He has a gun. He's pointing it at employees." The caller said the man initially walked behind the counter and tried to fight a Burger King employee. Later in the call, she is heard urging someone to lock the doors.

Another caller said she was in the drive-thru when she saw a man reach into his waistband, spurring employees to run. She drove off before she could determine if he had a gun, she said.

Officers arrived minutes later and engaged a man in the parking lot. After he refused to heed multiple commands to drop his weapon, Kerl, a 24-year veteran who works in the police department's metro division, opened fire, police said.

"One of the first arriving officers perceived a lethal threat, fired at least one round, striking the subject," the chief said at the time.

The man, later identified as Franklin, was transported to Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. A gun was recovered at the scene, Putney said. Kerl was placed on paid administrative leave.

The department's internal affairs bureau is conducting a parallel investigation into the shooting.

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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