Yesterday afternoon CMPD released body-cam footage from the March 25 officer involved shooting death of 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin at a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road.
Here’s what we know.
What happened on March 25?
Around 9 a.m. on March 25, police responded to two separate 911 calls about a man with a gun at a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road. The first caller said the armed man entered the restaurant, walked behind the counter and pointed the gun at an employee. The second caller said the armed man approached her vehicle and pulled out the gun while she was waiting for food.
Body-cam footage shows Officer Wende Kerl approaching the man, later identified as Franklin, squatting next to someone in the passenger seat of a car. His hands are not visible.
Over the course of about 30 seconds, Kerl and fellow officer Larry Deal issue more than a dozen commands for Franklin to show his hands and drop his weapon. The video then shows Franklin reaching into his right pocket and pulling out what appears to be a handgun before he is shot twice by Kerl.
Franklin looks up at her and says, “You told me to…” before slumping over onto the ground. He died shortly thereafter at Atrium Health.
EXTREMELY GRAPHIC CONTENT: Officer Kerl’s body-cam footage
The video then shows Kerl approaching Franklin and retrieving what appears to be a handgun from under his body. “I gotta pick up the gun,” she says. CMPD confirms a gun was recovered at the scene.
THE BIG QUESTION: Was Franklin taking the gun out to comply with officers’ commands or will officials conclude he posed a potentially lethal threat as perceived by Kerl? It could take months for officials to reach a conclusion.
What was the community response?
The initial shooting sparked demonstrations last month, including a walkout at Northwest School of the Arts, and regained momentum yesterday following the release of the video.
About 70 protestors gathered in Marshall Park yesterday evening in response to the release of the footage which they say shows Franklin attempting to comply with repeated police commands to drop his weapon.
A number of community leaders spoke along with Franklin’s cousin Alexis Jackson. “On behalf of my family, y’all go in peace,” she said. “Cops, judges, lawyers. Go in peace. Danquirs was a peaceful person. He didn’t put the gun down quick enough so you shot him. If he was white would you have still looked at him the same way?”
The rally, contained only to the park with no street marching, wrapped up around 8:30 p.m. The city seemed braced for a bigger impact with Police Chief Kerr Putney and Mayor Vi Lyles calling for calm ahead of the release of the video.
2016 PROTESTS: In September 2016, three nights of chaotic protests brought Charlotte to its knees and into the national spotlight following the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by officer Brentley Vinson. Peaceful demonstrations gave way to violence and vandalism that resulted in arrests, civilian and officer injuries, declaration of a state of emergency and the subsequent deployment of the National Guard, citywide curfew and the shooting death of protestor Justin Carr.
What happens next?
Following standard procedure, Kerl has been placed on paid administrative leave while the CMPD Homicide Unit investigates the incident. A separate but parallel investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau will determine if CMPD policies and procedures were adhered to.
CMPD will turn over its findings to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney for review within the next two weeks and the DA’s office will determine if Kerl will be criminally charged with Franklin’s death. That review could take up to six weeks.
Chief Kerr Putney has scheduled two community conversations this week – Tuesday, April 16 at East Stonewall AME Zion Church and Wednesday, April 17 at Little Rock AME Zion Church. Both will take place 6:30-8 p.m.
THE PRECEDENT: What was the outcome for two other high-profile Charlotte police shootings in the last decade? Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter after shooting unarmed 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell 12 times while the former football player was seeking help after crashing his car in 2013. Kerrick’s case resulted in a hung jury and the judge declared a mistrial. No charges were filed against Officer Brentley Vinson in the 2016 shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.