CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An on duty Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who struck and killed a man in uptown Charlotte Saturday morning has been charged in the man's death Wednesday.
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Officer Phillip Barker, 24, was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle in connection with the death of 28-year-old James Michael Short.
During a news conference to announce the decision, Police Chief Kerr Putney said it wasn't an easy decision but it was the right thing to do. Putney said the department stresses accountability and the decision to charge one of their own "is true to form to hold ourselves accountable."
Chief Putney said it was a "difficult decision to make professionally and personally."
On Saturday morning, three marked police Charlotte-Mecklenburg police cruisers were responding to a crash around 3:20 a.m. where a vehicle had struck a building in the 800 block of East Stonewall Street.
As the three CMPD patrol vehicles were heading to the scene, one of the CMPD officers struck Short who was crossing the road at Morehead Street near the intersection of Euclid Avenue.
MEDIC pronounced Short dead on the scene.
Speed was the primary factor in the crash, CMPD tweeted. Putney said Barker was responding to an emergency with his lights and siren on, and had a green light but his speed was "excessive."
CMPD says officers have to act with 'due regard for safety.'
Chief Putney said Officer Barker's action was "a mistake of the head, not the heart" adding the officer had " the right intentions" but cited his youth and inexperience. The department says Barker has been employed with CMPD since January 25, 2016.
Barker was going around 100 mph in a 35 mph zone on Morehead Street at the time of the fatal crash, Putney said.
Putney released this statement Wednesday:
Barker's attorney Mike Green released this statement Wednesday:
Barker was placed on unpaid administrative leave and turned himself into the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, CMPD said.
"A lot of citizens in this exact same situation are issued a citation. If you want to treat everybody the same, you could of issued him a citation," Green said. "He's not a flight risk, he's not a danger to the community and I'm happy that the magistrates let him out on the fit and promise to appear. I'm disappointed that the police department didn't decide to issue him a citation."