CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced Friday that he’d prefer all future officer-involved shootings resulting in a fatality or serious injury within the county be investigated by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.
In an news release sent Friday the DA’s office noted every police department in the county - except the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department - already turned over officer-involved shooting investigations to the SBI. The DA said the move was not due to any perceived issues with CMPD’s past investigations.
The announcement comes two days after the family of Danquirs Franklin said they were “disappointed by the District Attorney’s assessment of the circumstances of his death.” Franklin was shot and killed by a CMPD officer in a Burger King Parking lot in March. In August the DA’ s office announced it would not pursue charges against the officer who shot Franklin.
“CMPD has conducted professional and extraordinarily thorough investigations of shootings involving the department’s officers, and the District Attorney’s Office has been confident in the integrity of those investigations,” Merriweather wrote in the news release.
“Nevertheless, just as we counsel our prosecutors and staff against the appearance of a conflict of interest, we must do what we can to ensure we avoid perceived conflict in these investigations whenever possible. The criminal justice system cannot – and should not – function without public confidence.”
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney released a video statement on Twitter about the DA’s decision Friday afternoon.
“This is a change the District Attorney has determined is in the best interest of his constituents,” Putney said, “and we’re now going to shore up the protocol to support that decision.”
The new policy will take effect after “protocol is developed that addresses many operational concerns, including standard procedures enabling local police to secure the scene until SBI investigators can arrive to assume command of the investigation."
When the SBI completes its investigation into an officer-involved shooting, it will then be turned over to the DA’s office, who will then determine if any criminal charges will be filed.
A spokesperson for Merriweather said he was unavailable for an interview on Friday.
You can read the DA’s complete release below: