CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One day after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) was ordered to release the full body-worn camera video of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Danquirs Franklin the department said the case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.
CMPD said their detectives had completed their investigation into the shooting and the District Attorney’s Office confirmed they received the case file Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, CMPD was ordered to release the full body camera video of the shooting during a hearing that was to decide whether the department violated an order by not releasing the entire video of the March 25 shooting at a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road. The judge ultimately ruled CMPD was not in contempt by showing the full video to City Council before it was released to the public.
The motion was filed by WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner, who was also the first person to file a petition to release the video after the shooting of Danquirs Franklin in March.
The motion filed by Ochsner asks CMPD to explain why the full 11 minute was not provided to the judge. The department originally released a little over two minutes of the video that show moments before Officer Wende Kerl arrived at the Burger King and the moments immediately after the shooting.
Attorney for Ochsner, Mike Tadych, says the court previously granted release of the video but CMPD failed to disclose it was a partial video.
Charlotte City Council was shown the full 11 minute video prior to its release to the community even though there is not a state statue requiring them to view the footage in its entirety. Tadych says CMPD needs to explain why the video was edited and why council members were shown the full video.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney testified on the stand, saying that city attorneys made a recommendation regarding the length of the video released and that he ultimately made the final decision.
Tadych says law enforcement doesn’t have the authority to decide what’s viewed by the judge. He also argued that CMPD violated the judge’s order by allowing city council members to view the video before its 2 p.m. public release.
Putney said City Manager Marcus Jones told him the city attorney had assured him it was okay for the council to view the video, which Putney says he raised concerns about. Putney also told the court that Jones had been the one who asked for council to see the video.
But Jones told WBTV he did not add qualifiers to his request.
“We did have a request for the council to see the video footage. Whether it was two minutes, three minutes, five minutes, ten minutes that was not the request it was just to see the video footage.”
Putney also said that he raised concerns about council viewing the video before the public release of it but that Jones told him that the city attorney assured him it would be OK.
“There weren’t a list of concerns that the Chief raised you know he just suggested that this is something that maybe something we shouldn’t do and I said I think this is something we should do so ultimately it was my call,” Jones said.
The assistant attorney for the city of Charlotte, Jessica Battle, says although there is not a state statute, there’s a bill filled in the statehouse to allow city councils to view the video before a judge’s order.
In court, Tadych says he believes CMPD only presented the shorter video because Ochsner’s petition included the words “immediately after.”
Battle says the 2 minute and 20 seconds video covers immediately after Kerl fired her gun. Battle asked the judge to deny the motion as the request to show “immediately after” was granted. She says the full video was not requested.
Battle says there shouldn’t be any civil liability and claims the city did not willfully disregard any requirements of the statue by presenting the edited video.
She says the full 11 minute video has since been given to the court and requests that only six minutes of the video be released because after the shooting “Officer Kerl makes spontaneous utterances that could affect her ability to have a fair trial.”
Attorney for Officer Kerl, Jeremy Smith, says he has no objections to the full video being released and disagreed with Battle’s characterizations of Kerl’s statements after the shooting.
During the court hearing, attorneys discussed the absence of Officer Larry Deal’s body camera during the shooting.
Ochsner’s attorney says CMPD has yet to explain why there was only one body camera among the two officers outside of the Burger King.