Citizens Review Board votes that police chief erred in case of man who had officer press gun to head

Citizens Review Board votes that police chief erred in case of man who had officer press gun to head

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The City of Charlotte's Citizens Review Board (CRB) voted unanimously to further review the arrest of James Yarborough, the man who had a gun pressed to his head by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer while the officer threatened to kill him.

The board met Monday and ruled that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney erred in handling the internal affairs investigation into the case.

The CRB will hold a hearing in September.

The incident happened in March 2016, at the end of a foot chase between Yarborough and CMPD officers who pulled over a car in which Yarborough was a passenger.

A WBTV investigation uncovered the incident more than a year later, after Yarborough called the WBTV tip line with concerns over the way officers treated him.

Yarborough's arrest was captured on body cameras worn by at least two of the four officers involved in Yarborough's arrest. After an officer pressed a gun to Yarborough's head and threatened to kill him, officers later spent several minutes kneeing, elbowing and punching Yarborough, who they accused of resisting arrest.

Previous Story: Police video shows officer press gun to unarmed man's head, threaten to kill him

The minutes-long struggle came to an end after another officer arrived on scene and told the four officers who were trying to take Yarborough into custody that they needed to get off Yarborough in order for him to be able to put his hands behind his back.

In an interview with WBTV, CMPD Major Stella Patterson, who supervises the department's internal affairs unit, defended the officers' behavior.

"The officer reasonably believed that he had a weapon on him," she said.

Personnel records provided by CMPD show no officer was disciplined as a result of the incident. The officer who pressed the gun to Yarborough's head and threatened to kill him, left the department a month after the incident, records show.

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney acknowledged the officer should not have put his gun to Yarborough's head during a press conference that came days after WBTV's investigation aired.

"I'm not going to defend some of the language because we do have policies that restrict what can be said and in what manner," Putney told reporters at the time. "Nor am I going to defend all of the tactics used, especially on behalf of Officer Dunham."

Previous Story: Chief responds to WBTV Investigation after Video shows officer pressing gun to man's head

Yarborough recognizes that he should not have run from police that day but maintains officers used excessive force in trying to arrest him.

"That's a heck of a beating, man.  You know, that's a real life beating," he said. "Even now I sweat in my sleep. I wake up looking out the window because I'm like 'they're coming to get me again.'"

On Monday, Yarborough and his attorney—as well as representatives for CMPD—made their case to the CRB. Yarborough tried to file a complaint with CMPD Internal Affairs more than a year ago but officers refused to process his complaint until after WBTV's investigation aired.

CMPD sent Yarborough a letter outlining the findings of its internal affairs investigation in mid-May and he appealed the decision to the CRB.

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