Family say man shot by police had troubled past

by: Jeff Smith Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eyewitness News continues to learn new details about a 26-year-old man shot and killed by police Friday afternoon in his grandmother's garage in the Ballantyne area.

The victim's family and police paint two very different pictures about the moments before the fatal shooting.

Clay McCall's grandmother insisted to Eyewitness News that her grandson was calmly talking to police and was not acting violently when he was shot.

"I never was afraid of him. He was kind," said 85-year-old Lula McGrath.

By all accounts, McCall had a troubled life. Family members said he was beaten and abused by his father as a child, suffered from mental illness and was living in a homeless shelter.

He also had a history of violence. He pleaded guilty to killing his dad six years ago, and got out of prison in February.

"You never felt your safety was in jeopardy?" Eyewitness News asked.

"No, never. Never," McGrath said. "He had a real troubled upbringing."

McCall was visiting his grandmother Thursday night and spending the night in her garage.

He hadn't slept and hadn't taken his medication, McGrath said, so she called his mental health caseworker, who in turn called police.

"They arrive on the scene. They engage in conversation, trying to de-escalate the situation because the subject was quite irate," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Deputy Chief Kerr Putney.

Putney said McCall was acting aggressively and charged at the officers with lawn shears.

Officer John Galland fired a Taser, which didn't subdue McCall. That's when police said a second officer, Ole Swenson, fired two shots.

"They didn't have to shoot him," McGrath said, weeping. "They were right with him. Closer than you and I. They could have controlled him, someway."

"Without shooting him?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Yes indeed. They didn't have to shoot him," McGrath added.

CMPD confirmed the officers were warned about McCall's violent past before they arrived on scene. Police said the men only fired as a last resort.

The two officers are on paid administrative. Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting, and Internal Affairs is conducting a separate investigation about whether the officers violated CMPD policies.

Swenson is a 26-year veteran with CMPD. Galland has been with the department for eight years.