Police Body Camera Video Raises Questions About Shooting Of N.C. Black Man

Apr 18, 2019
Originally published on April 18, 2019 10:56 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Charlotte, N.C., police have just released bodycam footage capturing a white police officer shooting and killing a black man last month. The man is armed. The officer asks him to put down his gun repeatedly. But what happens after that is raising a lot of questions. And the community is demanding answers and protesting.

Sarah Delia of member station WFAE has more.

SARAH DELIA, BYLINE: The Burger King parking lot in west Charlotte, where 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin was killed, has become a meeting place for local activists. Yesterday, during a press conference, Myka Johnson, a community organizer, spoke passionately as others snapped their fingers in agreement.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MYKA JOHNSON: When the video was released, I screamed. It is not normal to watch videos of people getting murdered. That is not normal. We don't deserve that. But it happens all the time.

DELIA: The bodycam footage of Officer Wende Kerl shows the moments leading up to the shooting and then Franklin laying on a gun afterwards. But community members say it looks like Franklin was trying to comply with Kerl's orders to drop the gun when she shot him. There are differing accounts as to why the altercation started. The police maintained that Officer Kerl believed Franklin was an imminent threat.

This week, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department continued its outreach to keep tensions low. The Department scheduled events at local churches, not for the public to hear from police, but for the police to hear from residents.

At one event, Minister Shawn Richardson started by asking Police Chief Kerr Putney and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles if either one of them had considered resigning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SHAWN RICHARDSON: And I mean it with all due respect. I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired.

DELIA: Chief Putney listened and responded in a measured fashion.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KERR PUTNEY: Thank you, sir. I appreciate your opinion. Here's what I'll tell you. Just - since we're just being real. We have too much work to do for me to quit. I'm not going quit. I'm sick of seeing this too.

DELIA: Others in the audience like Yvonne McJetters, a veteran and minister, asked for more information about police training, especially when it comes to de-escalation.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

YVONNE MCJETTERS: I have two sons and not - you know, I don't want to see what happened to any of the young men. I don't - I didn't look at the video. The fact of the matter I know - he's dead. He's not coming back home. Take your hand off your weapon and treat people like human beings.

DELIA: This week, Chief Putney maintained two things - he's not going to defend the actions of Officer Kerl, and he's not out to vilify Danquirs Franklin. He expects to present the local district attorney with results from their internal investigation on the officer as early as next week.

For NPR News, I'm Sarah Delia in Charlotte. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.