CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney gathered to listen and answer questions during a conversation with the Charlotte community Tuesday night.
Chief Putney invited the community to join him for important conversations about the role officers play and their relationship with the people they serve.
The event took place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at East Stonewall AME Zion Church Tuesday night, and another conversation is planned for Wednesday night at Little Rock AME Zion Church.
The conversation was real, raw and candid. In fact, some even called for Putney to step down. Some in the audience thought things would have gotten better after the 2016 fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
“I still don’t have confidence that you are going to truly make amends,” a community member said. “And I still ask you to resign.”
Putney responded and said he won’t step down but he will step up. He says there’s much more work to do.
The meeting took place about a mile from that Burger King where that fatal officer-involved shooting took place in March. The community gathered Tuesday night still stunned that an officer took a life.
“There’s something wrong with that,” a community member said.
Chief Putney took question after question. One involved race, as the officer involved is white and the person she shot was a black man.
“We have a culture that the “black” man is being perceived as someone that is dangerous violent,” a community member expressed.
“Our struggle is cultural proficiency. Everybody has unconscious bias,” Chief Putney responded.
The Chief says all officers go through an initial cultural competency training, but admits all have not gone through a more intensive training about race. The Chief claims the department is tackling race issues head on.
People in the audience saw the video of the shooting and they were troubled. They believe the man in the video, Danquirs Franklin, was trying to put down the weapon - as he was ordered to - when he was shot to death.
"When can a person in that situation make the right movement that won't get them killed." one community member asked.
The Chief stressed when people encounter police there should be cooperation, communication and de-escalation. The Chief gave the group a demonstration of how police can recover a weapon.
"Ideally what happened is show me your hands," Putney said. "You got a gun - Yes - ok and then we follow instructions."
People argue that protocol was not done. Putney told the crowd the investigation is not complete and it has not been determined if the shooting was justified. People left the meeting still wanting more answers.
"I don't know if it is going to help in one evening," Community member Kelvin Chege said. "I promise you that."
Others left the meeting thinking the police department is doing all it can to prevent another fatal officer involved shooting.
"I do think that they are making movements to make changes," Community member Channy George said. "But it's very hard."
Putney says he learned things at the meeting and will take them back to the department.
"Still got work to do obviously," Putney said. "And making sure our policy matches the expectation, but the other big takeaway for me is that we are communicating some of the changes, especially around the improvements in training."
CMPD says in 2018 there were about 600,000 interactions between police and the community. There were five officer-involved Shootings and two were fatal.
Putney says the department will hand over the case to the District Attorney (DA) in a few days and the DA could take six to eight weeks to determine if the shooting was legal or illegal.