CMPD files motion to release full video of deadly officer-involved shooting

CMPD files motion to release full officer-involved shooting video

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department filed a motion Thursday to release the entire body camera video of the deadly officer-involved shooting of Danquirs Franklin.

This comes after a judge ordered CMPD to appear in court and explain why the entire body camera video depicting the events before, during and after the shooting of was neither provided to a judge to review or released publicly.

CMPD filed the motion, asking to dismiss the order to appear in court, entered by Superior Court Judge Forrest Bridges upon a petition filed by WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner.

On Thursday, Ochsner filed a motion to show cause. The motion alleges CMPD violated two court orders related to the petition to release video from the shooting; specifically, the motion contends, CMPD did not transmit the full body camera video as ordered by a judge on March 26 and did not release the full video as ordered on April 11.

As a result of Ochsner’s motion, a judge signed an order on Thursday requiring CMPD to appear in Superior Court and explain why they should not be held in contempt of court for violating the orders.

A hearing had been set for Tuesday, April 23 at 11 a.m.

CMPD released the first two minutes and 20 seconds of body camera video worn by Officer Wende Kerl, who fired the shots that killed Franklin. However, early Thursday morning, the Charlotte Observer reported that the full video from Kerl’s body camera runs more than 11 minutes.

Members of the Charlotte City Council were shown the full video from Kerl’s body camera, WBTV has learned.

Sources tell WBTV the council viewed the video after the 10:30 a.m. press conference ahead of the video’s release, before the time CMPD was ordered by a judge to release the video.

According to a statement from Mayor Vi Lyles, the Charlotte City Council viewed more of the video than what was released to the public.

“Over the past two weeks, as Mayor and the Charlotte City Council, we have worked diligently to respect the dignity of the Franklin family and to be open in our communication with our citizens. After the Superior Court ruled on the release of the body worn cameras, I and the Council viewed what we thought was soon-to-be available to the public. That was our intent. Inadvertently, we were shown more of the video than we should have. Today, Chief Putney filed a petition to release the video to the public in Superior Court. We support his request. I continue to be grateful to be in a city like Charlotte, where we all see that openness is the ultimate goal of our city leaders. I ask for your continued understanding as we work through this process.”

Ochsner responded to the statement on WBTV Thursday.

“There is no provision in the body camera statute that allows the city council to view this video, in any portion, without an order from the judge. Even if they saw what the judge ordered, they appeared to have watched it before the effective time of the order,” Ochsner said. “I’ve asked just again, in response to the latest statement we got, what legal authority they think they have to watch this video. So far, CMPD and the city refuse to provide any answers.”

CMPD replied to a tweet from Ochsner Thursday evening.

“CMPD acted in good faith and in compliance with the law in releasing video Monday. However, moving forward, we will provide all BWC video of the petitioned incident to the presiding judge with recommendations for redaction. Our goal is responsible transparency for all involved,” the tweet read.

In CMPD’s motion to dismiss and petition to release, the department claims that it “complied with the Petitioner’s request and subsequent orders for release of relevant video.”

Ochsner responded to CMPD’s motion Thursday on WBTV.

“When you file a petition like this, the law requires the law enforcement agency to transmit the entire video of the incident identified in the petition,” Ochsner said. “CMPD, we know because they’ve said it publicly to me and again today the city attorney reiterated, we know they only sent the first two minutes and 20 seconds. Ultimately, what gets released or what doesn’t get released is up to a judge, but there’s nothing indicating that Judge Hoover, who entered the order last week, had any idea that there was more than two minutes and 20 seconds of video.”

Ochsner first petitioned a judge for release of the video from Franklin’s shooting on March 25, the day it happened.

Franklin was shot in the parking lot of a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road after officers responded to calls of a man acting erratically with a gun.

A hearing on whether the video should be released was held on April 11 before Judge Donnie Hoover, who ordered the video be released.

Specifically, Hoover ordered the public release of “custodial law enforcement agency recording related to an officer-involved shooting under CMPD complaint number 20190325-0901-02.”

Ochsner is petitioning a judge for CMPD to release the entirety of the video.

Following the filing of Ochsner’s motion on Thursday, Tufano sent a bullet list of points as to why the department did not transmit the full video from Kerl’s body camera.

In summary, Tufano’s list claimed the petition filed by Ochsner and a second petition filed by a second Charlotte TV reporter did not seek the full video.

“As per, statute 132-1.4A, the CMPD transmitted the relevant portion of video recording to the courts, based on the petitioners’ requests,” Tufano’s list stated.

But the list also acknowledged CMPD will change its policy for producing body camera video to a judge for in-camera review, as required by statute, in the future.

“Moving forward, the CMPD will transmit all relevant body-worn camera video of the petitioned incident to the presiding Superior Court judge along with appropriate redaction recommendations," Tufano said.

Tufano did not immediately answer questions about why CMPD released a full copy of the video to members of the city council.

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