Charlotte man sentenced to 29.5 years after shootout with office - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte man sentenced to 29.5 years after shootout with officers

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Malcolm Springs. Source: Facebook Malcolm Springs. Source: Facebook
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The man who sued the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for "police brutality" is now going away for a long time.

22-year-old Malcolm Springs was sentenced in U.S. District Court Tuesday. The judge ordered him to serve 355 months in prison, followed by five years of court supervision. He was also ordered to pay $21, 434 in restitution. All federal sentences are served without possibility of parole.

Springs' sentence was enhanced because he has four prior violent felony convictions, which makes him an Armed Career Criminal under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The conviction stems from a violent drug deal in March 2011. Investigators say Springs met up with 28-year-old Santonio Cassell in the parking lot of a gas station for a drug deal. Springs stole the drugs and showed his gun to Cassell. The two men struggled over the gun and Cassell was shot in the arm and abdomen.

Springs fled the scene in his car.

Officers responded to a call about a shooting at about 1 a.m. They found Cassell suffering from gunshot wounds. They said he had been shot at close range. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center.

A description of the shooter's vehicle was given to all officers working the early Sunday morning shift.

Just before 3 a.m. an officer spotted the suspect vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop near the intersection of Highland Street and Marlowe Avenue.

The driver  - later identified as Springs - refused to stop until reaching a dead-end. At that time, he jumped out of the car and ran. Officers chased him and a K9 unit was brought to the scene to help locate the driver. The police chopper was also used in the search.

A short time later, officers spotted Springs between houses on Garibaldi Avenue. He shot at Officer Brent Harrison, hitting him in the leg. Harrison returned fire and hit Springs in the lower torso, allowing officers to move in and arrest Springs.

A neighbor described the scene to WBTV at the time, saying her family dropped to the floor until the gunfire stopped. She said, "it sounded like we were in an Army fight".

Officer Harrison was taken to Presbyterian Hospital, and recovered. Springs was taken to Carolinas Medical Center and also recovered.

The 9mm Ruger pistol used by Springs was recovered and confiscated.

During the trial, Springs' mother talked to WBTV. She said justice should be served.

"If he's responsible for any of these things, he's gonna go through the system and he's gonna have to be held accountable for that," said Debra Walls.

But Walls also said, if police crossed the line, they needed to be held accountable as well.

After the shooting between Springs and Officer Harrison in the Camp Greene neighborhood of west Charlotte, several neighbors told WBTV they witnessed officers stomping and hitting Springs after he was already handcuffed.

CMPD was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case. Officials said Springs was resisting arrest and officers did not use excessive force.

Springs has been in local federal custody since June 2011.

In December 2011, Springs pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors described the shootings committed by Springs as "reckless and wanton" and noted he "could have killed two people". Prosecutors also said Springs' shooting a police officer reflected a "complete lack of respect for the law."

In announcing the sentencing, United States Attorney Anne Tompkins stated, "The Springs case demonstrates the U.S. Attorney's Office's commitment to vigorously prosecuting violent criminals and to enforcing existing federal firearms laws. Let it also be known, that we will not tolerate any acts or attempted acts of violence against police officers."

"Malcolm Springs' ruthless actions put many lives at risk. The FBI and our law enforcement partners stand united in our commitment to hold violent offenders accountable for their negative impact on our communities," said Roger Coe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.

"It is unfortunate that the incident escalated to where the suspect fired a gun and placed two lives in danger," said Chief Rodney Monroe, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. "Oftentimes those who are intent on breaking the law and who knowingly engage in criminal activities also lack a regard for human life."

The investigation was handled by the FBI and CMPD, assisted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Gleason of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte.

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