CMPD officers smash driver’s window to get him to stop during medical emergency

CMPD officers smash driver’s window to get him to stop during medical emergency
A still from the video posted on Twitter by Matt Lee. (Source: Twitter user Matt Lee)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Chief Kerr Putney is defending the actions of two of his officers.

On Saturday, during Florence’s storm, officers encountered a car that was moving slowly through uptown Charlotte. The driver ignored officers' commands to stop, so the officers ran up to the car and smashed the window to get the driver's attention.

"The driver was semi-conscious," Putney said. "Could have easily plowed into other citizens. I applaud the good work."

The incident was captured on cell phone video. It was posted on social media and people criticized what they saw. Some believe officers went too far when smashing the window. CMPD sent out a statement to explain what happened.

"It was portrayed as if we randomly sought out a driver and tried to smash his window," Putney said.

Officer Emanuel Johnson and Officer Benjamin Devries attempted to stop the car. They thought they had got the drivers attention.

"He slowed down," Officer Johnson said. "I got out of my vehicle - I tried to make contact. I observed at that time he was unconscious. I knocked on the window, he woke up, looked at me, and then sped off - so at that point and time I knew something was wrong."

The Officers continued to follow the man who they say was having a medical emergency. The driver even hit a car while moving. Officers say they had to step in and brake the window.

"At that point and time we exhausted all of our options - so we figured that was the best thing to do at that point and time to save - you know - his life and anybody else," Johnson said.

After the window was smashed, officers still had to think fast to bring the car to a complete stop.

"We realized we weren't going to get him to stop," Officer Devries said. "So I put my patrol vehicle in front of his car and put it in park."

The driver did eventually get medical attention and is expected to be OK. Officers say this experience proved to them they have to be ready to handle any type of situation.

"Doing this type of job you're forced - stuff falls in your lap all the time," Johnson said. "And you just got to do what you can to the best of your ability with the police training and your gut instinct."

Officers are relieved no one got seriously hurt and are happy they were in the right place at the right time to offer help.

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