Records show second officer’s body cameras were off during deadly shooting

Records show second officer’s body cameras were off during deadly shooting
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) Chief Kerr Putney has said the department is in the process of revamping its policy on use of force.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Records show the two body cameras assigned to the second officer who was on the scene of a deadly officer-involved shooting in late March were both turned off on the day of the shooting.

WBTV requested metadata for the two cameras assigned to Officer Larry Deal, the second officer on scene when Danquirs Franklin was shot and killed by Officer Wende Kerl in the parking lot of a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road.

Police were called to the restaurant for reports of a man with a gun acting erratically.

WBTV requested the records last week after a spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said there was only one video of the shooting available and that was from Kerl’s body camera.

CMPD leaders have reiterated there is only one video available but have refused to elaborate on why.

“You have two people on scene, two officers. You got one video,” CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said with a shrug when asked at a press briefing Wednesday what, specifically, happened to Deal’s body camera.

But the metadata for Deal’s body cameras show both devices were off on March 25.

One camera was powered off at 6:20 p.m. on March 24 with 95 percent battery.

The second camera assigned to Deal shut down due to low battery on January 3, the records show.

CMPD’s policy governing body cameras, Department Directive 400-006, require officers to keep one body camera on their person during shifts and to keep the second camera in a charging dock, that also downloads video when plugged in.

The policy says officers should then plug in the camera they wear during a shift to be charged and downloaded at the end of a duty day and then take the second camera to use during off-duty assignments and to have on hand when they operate their police cruiser.

Putney has indicated Deal’s lack of body camera during the Franklin shooting is being investigated.

“The only officer with an activated camera that caught the incident is the one that we released: Officer Kerl,” Putney said Wednesday. “So, anybody else who was on the scene during the incident, it’s going to have to be investigated internally.”

It is not clear how Deal’s second body camera, which remained powered off with a dead battery for nearly three months, was not caught by his supervisor during a monthly audit.

Related: Second officer in Franklin shooting has string of suspensions, records show

At Wednesday’s briefing, CMPD leadership highlighted the monthly audits as a way to show department leadership was keenly tracking officers’ adherence to the body camera policy.

But data provided by CMPD to WBTV show the department has only issued 13 disciplinary actions in the past 12 months for violation of the policy, with six cases addressing other policy violations in addition to just body cameras.

“How thoroughly of a look is your department taking at the adherence of that policy if we see it’s catching only six (sic) officers solely for violations of body worn camera video?” a WBTV reporter asked Putney on Wednesday.

“Sure. It’s a matter of what you compare it to. Prior to, we were catching none,” Putney said. “So I think having 13 now is an improvement.”

At the press conference, Putney said the department has issued a range of disciplinary action to officers for violating the body camera policy but the data provided by CMPD shows officers who have violated just the body camera policy have only faced written warnings and/or counseling.

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