CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hours after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced its decision to cite five employees involved in the in-custody death of Harold Easter for termination, Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles addressed the incident.
Lyles said this was an important step “for the Easter family to find comfort.”
“As mayor, I ask this community to understand that we helped to take this important step for the Easter family to find comfort and understand we acknowledge their loss,” Lyles said.
Five Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police employees - four officers and a sergeant - were “cited for termination” following the investigation into the in-custody death of Easter in January.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say Easter had a medical emergency after they arrested him for drug charges and were transporting him back to the station for processing on Jan. 23. Easter died a few days later after being rushed to the hospital.
On the morning of Sept. 18, CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings said in a briefing that the four officers and sergeant were “cited for termination.”
CMPD is expected to release the video of the incident within a week or so.
Lyles said she hasn’t seen the video but knows that the Easter family has.
She said the video will play a significant role in the continued investigation into whether or not charges will be filed.
“You have a great depth of feeling for any loss,” Lyles said. "Typically, my reaction has been that when there are people at are losses by employees of our city or who have contributed to our city, I trying to acknowledge those folks with a personal note or call.
“In this case, we know there is going to be additional litigation and legal representation. Sometimes those things just interfere with the ability to do what I am doing to today.”
Lyles has not spoken with the Easter family but did offer her condolences.
“There are many things about being mayor that I would change, being more of a person,” Lyles said. “I deeply regret the loss of Mr. Easter. I know the family has seen the video and I know that’s the law that they can.”
In October, the City of Charlotte is expected to release its draft for its Community Safety Plan.
Lyles said the goal of the plan is to have accountability for police while showing how officers should address violence and how to police the community.
“This is about how to improve and make sure we police well and protect our citizens,” Lyles said.
Charlotte City Manager Marcus D. Jones also provided a statement.
“This is a difficult day for all involved. My thoughts are with Harold Easter’s family as they lost a loved member of their family. I am also mindful of the officers involved. As Chief Jennings said earlier, sometimes good people make bad decisions. We must, however, hold ourselves accountable. I believe the decision from the internal review board and Chief Jennings is an important step forward. I believe today’s announcement sends a message to our communities that we will be proactive and progressive in policing and will continue to make strides in how we serve our communities,” Jones said.