CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It will be weeks before the District Attorney’s Office will be making the decision on whether the fatal shooting of Danquirs Franklin by CMPD officer Wende Kerl is justified. In the meantime, experts analyzed video of the officer-involved shooting, and community activists still have plenty of unanswered questions.
Former Criminology chair at UNC-Charlotte, and current professor, Dr. Vivian Lord watched the body-cam video with WBTV’s Coleen Harry and instantly noted two things: officers had a lot of decisions and not a lot of time.
“There’s a lot of decisions that the officers are having just a few seconds to think about,” said Dr. Lord. “I have no idea what was going through the officers’ minds but they had an individual... the individual is already showing… even though he hasn’t shot the weapon yet – the individual is dangerous.”
That individual was 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin.
Franklin was shot by veteran CMPD officer Wende Kerl around 9 a.m. on March 25 in the parking lot of the Burger King on Beatties Ford Road, according to CMPD.
The body-cam video, released by police on Monday afternoon at 2 p.m., is two minutes and twenty seconds long. The first 30 seconds of the video does not have audio, which is standard for body-camera video released by CMPD. This edited video shows the moments leading up to the fatal shooting of Franklin on March 25, 2019.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the full-length body-cam video of the fatal police shooting of 27 -year-old Danquirs Franklin. The video was released first to WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner, who petitioned a judge for its release.
In the body-cam video, officers Kerl and Larry Diehl drew their guns immediately upon getting out of their vehicles. Between the two officers, Franklin was instructed to either “drop the weapon” or “put the gun on the ground” at least 20 times.
Dr. Lord, who watched the entire two minutes and twenty seconds of video and listened to the 911 calls that were released shortly after the shooting, noted officers were getting updates about a man at the Burger King on the way to the scene.
“They knew as they were approaching that an individual with a gun is beside a rust-colored car,” said Lord.
One minute and ten seconds into the video, officers arrived on scene and began calling out commands to Franklin.
“You could see his hands,” said Lord, who used to be with North Carolina Justice Academy and was former police officer in the 1970s. “I couldn’t see exactly his finger tips so as he was squatting you could see his hands and she’s saying drop the weapon and there was movement with his hand and what appeared to be a weapon.”
Community activists, who protested the shooting hours after the video was released, say there are still plenty of unanswered questions.
“The group of people that are out here... people aren’t out here for violence, people are out here because they want transparency, they want accountability, they want good government,” said one man at the scene.
SAFE Coalition NC released a statement that questions why Franklin was shot. The group said, in their eyes, the video shows that he was complying when the shots were fired.
Demonstrators gathered at the scene of the March shooting at Burger King shortly after the video was released. While some held signs criticizing CMPD, others called for peace and for more answers.
“We definitely have to react to this,” another woman said, “This is a problem that we keep seeing over and over and over in Charlotte.”
One of the most important things Dr. Lord notes in the video is the man sitting in the passenger side of the vehicle in the Burger King parking lot. After the shooting takes place, the man describes himself as the General Manager of the restaurant.
“There’s that person – I imagine they’re trying to figure out the person in the car was in direct line,” she says. “They were trying to use their voice to get the individual to drop that weapon - which in the continuum of force – once you have someone who has a weapon then you can move quickly to use lethal force.”
WBTV spoke to former CMPD officer Walter Bowers. After watching video of the shooting, he said he believes Officer Kerl’s actions will ultimately be deemed justified.
“In this particular video, you have a person that is sitting in the passenger seat that is certainly in a dangerous situation,” Bowers explained. “And then they will also look at the variety of circumstances. Obviously, the type of call they’re responding to, the fact that they did give verbal commands, and unfortunately there just was not enough time for the officer to do anything else with a weapon being that close to a third-party and also that close to the officers involved.”
CMPD said the District Attorney’s Office will be making that decision in about two weeks. During that time, Kerl will remain on administrative leave. The department is also planning at least two community conversations to engage the public during the week.