CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina district attorney on Wednesday cleared a white police officer who shot and killed an armed black man at a fast food restaurant in March.
Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said in a 162-page report that he couldn’t prove to a jury that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Wende Kerl was unreasonable in her belief that she faced an imminent threat of death.
Kerl shot and killed Danquirs Napoleon Franklin, 27, on March 25 after he refused to drop his weapon.
“Given the available evidence and circumstances, it seems unlikely a jury would find that Officer Kerl should have had any more certainty about the decedent’s intentions with the firearm,” Merriweather said in a 22-page letter addressed to Police Chief Kerr Putney which was included in the report.
Putney said at the time that restaurant workers called police after the man acted suspiciously. Putney said the man walked outside, where officers ordered him to drop the gun before he was shot. Police video showed Franklin didn’t point the weapon at officers.
“Mr. Franklin’s death is tragic, regardless of the circumstances,” Putney said. “We ask the community to continue to keep his family and the family of Officer Kerl in their thoughts and prayers. All of their lives have been changed as a result of the shooting.”
An 11-minute bodycam video was released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police after local news outlets went to a judge to get the police department to release the entire recording. A 3-minute version was released April 15.
Both versions show the shooting of Franklin outside a Burger King. At about the 2-minute mark of the extended video, Kerl shoots Franklin, who was crouched next to the car on the passenger side. Right before Kerl fires, Franklin can be seen raising his right hand with an object in it, still facing the person in the passenger seat.
In the extended video, someone can be heard moaning, presumably Franklin. Kerl said she had to pick up the gun, and a man inside the car said, “This is crazy, man.”
“He pulled a gun,” Kerl said. An officer off camera responded, “Yes, he did. I know, Wende.” An officer asks if Kerl is OK and she responds that she is.