CRB finds fault, disagrees with chief in violent arrest of unarm - | WBTV Charlotte

CRB finds fault, disagrees with chief in violent arrest of unarmed man

A still from the CMPD body camera video. A still from the CMPD body camera video.
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Charlotte Citizens Review Board voted to disagree with the findings of an internal affairs investigation conducted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department into the violent arrest of an unarmed man in March 2016.

James Yarborough was arrested by CMPD officers on March 26, 2016 after running from a traffic stop. Body cam video from Yarborough’s arrest shows an officer pressing his pistol to Yarborough’s head and threatening to kill him.

The video also shows officers repeatedly punching, kicking and elbowing Yarborough until another officer arrives on scene and tells the four men on top of Yarborough to get off of him so he can put his hands behind his back.

The incident was brought to light this spring when WBTV obtained body camera video of the incident.

Previous story: Police video shows officer press gun to unarmed man’s head, threaten to kill him

At the time of WBTV’s first story, the CMPD major over internal affairs defending the officers’ behavior and said no policies were broken.

After WBTV’s investigation, though, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said the officer should not have pressed his pistol to Yarborough’s head and threatened to kill him.

Yarborough and his attorney filed a complaint with the CRB earlier this year.

This summer, the board ruled there was enough evidence presented during a preliminary hearing to hold a second, evidentiary hearing on the matter.

Previous story: Chief responds to WBTV Investigation after video shows officer pressing gun to unarmed man’s head

That evidentiary hearing was held on Tuesday. Board members voted 7-1 to recommend Putney’s ruling on the internal affairs investigation be overturned.

The CRB recommendation will now be forwarded to Putney and City Manager Marcus Jones, who will have the ultimate decision in whether to overturn CMPD’s decision in the case.

“I spoke with the chief and he is more than eager to go ahead and get those recommendations from the CRB to determine what it is we can go ahead and implement once we find it’s appropriate," public information officer Rob Tufano said Wednesday. "Really interested in reviewing those similar to the way we were interested in reviewing their relevant recommendations that came out of the evidentiary hearing that came out of the Scott hearing earlier this month.”

CMPD released the following statement Tuesday:

Since the Citizens Review Board heard the initial appeal of this case, CMPD has made policy changes in response to concerns raised by board members. Those include:

  • Creating a unit to randomly audit body worn camera video from all officers with the intent of identifying organizational training gaps and individual policy violations.
  • Giving immediate attention to tactical concerns noted in use-of-force cases, regardless of whether policy violations also are involved.
  • Treating all complaints brought to CMPD Headquarters or a Division Office in person, as formal complaints, any time they involve issues reviewable by the Citizens Review Board.
  • Completing and adjudicating internal investigations, even if officers leave CMPD before the process is completed. 

Chief Kerr Putney welcomes any recommendations the board sees fit to make and is committed to fully reviewing each of those to determine whether they can help us more effectively serve our community. 

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