CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Days after a video showing the moment a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot and killed a man was released, city leaders are coming together for a conversation with the community.
On Wednesday night, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney held his second community conversation since the release of body camera video of the deadly shooting at a north Charlotte Burger King.
Many people have criticized Officer Wende Kerl for only saying, "drop the gun" several times, and the chief said he wants to work with his officers about using more specific verbal commands.
“I'm going to tell you exactly how to either get down and put your hands behind your back, or how I want you to take that weapon out slowly – pinky, index finger and thumb -- and place it on the ground,” Putney told the crowd at Little Rock AME Zion off McDowell Street.
He went on to say that not every situation will be ideal but having a more specific policy for this type of encounter could help save lives.
'I'm going to be a seeker of justice': CMPD chief hears Charlotte's concerns
Mayor Vi Lyles and City Manager Marcus Jones held a breakfast forum Tuesday morning at the Belmont Regional Center on Parkwood Avenue to answer questions about the video and discuss the next steps.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney, Lyles and Jones addressed the public, and many questions came up about de-escalation.
Lyles said the police chief and city leaders will take a closer look at training and could even draw from the training of SWAT officers.
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"When we've had our SWAT teams in, we've had no loss of life in the experiences of the number that they have. If we have that kind of training, what does it include that perhaps needs to be included to all officers? We'll start thinking about that,” Lyles said.
"So, if a person wants to do the right thing and they make a movement, that movement very well could get them killed?" one community member asked.
"I'm not going to talk about that specific case, but if there's no communication and cooperation, then de-escalation can be much more difficult," Putney said.
Video released Monday shows Officer Wende Kerl fatally shooting Danquirs Franklin last month at a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road.
When asked whether the officer followed procedure, Putney said, “This is one of the most troubling videos I've seen"
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He said the investigation will be fair and unbiased.
"I'm not going to defend the officer's actions. I'm not going to try to vilify Mr. Franklin. He has a fantastic mother who is struggling, and I promised her I'm going to be a fact seeker and a seeker of justice,” Putney said.
In addition to the breakfast forum, Putney held a community conversation Tuesday evening at Stonewall AME Zion on Griers Grove Road.
During the session, Putney listened to the concerns of the community, and people did not mince words.
"Why have neither one of you considered stepping down because I feel like this city has not been more dangerous than the climate we have right now under you guys leadership, and I mean that with all due respect," said one community member.
Putney responded to questions about him stepping down by saying he would not quit because of the passion he has for change.
"If you wanna talk to about somebody taking my job, you know where my bosses are. They can fire me but I'm not gonna quit because what people don't see, what people don't see is the passion I have for changing these outcomes," said Putney.
"I'm fearful of not only my life but my family," said minister Shawn Richardson. "People who look like me, people who are in this room that look like me. I'm fearful for them because of the things that continue to happen in this city."
"My problem is, all the training in the world is not gonna override the legal standard when you're at that split second and an officer objectively believes right now he or she is about to lose their life because of this encounter, and it's self-defense," Putney said.
City leaders have asked all of Charlotte for patience, and to come together respectfully and peacefully.
Following the release of the body cam video, peaceful protests and rallies popped up across the city.
About 100 people gathered to remember Franklin and voice frustration with police shootings at a rally in Marshall Park.
As people held signs and lit candles, some questioned whether things have changed since the riots following the 2016 deadly officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
"I love my city and I want to see my city do well for everybody, but it's clearly not there yet," said Richardson. "If you are in this for the long run and want to see change, you will be out here with us."
“Have we improved?” the Rev. Ray McKinnon asked on Monday night. “I don't think we have. To be honest, I don't think we have. I think we've done a good job at seeming like we did, but I don't know that we have.”
CMPD said it will present the case to the district attorney in two weeks to determine if the shooting was justified.
Putney has said there's only one video of the shooting, but Channel 9 has learned the other officer on the scene is also part of an investigation regarding his body camera.
According to CMPD policy, “body-worn cameras shall be turned on and activated to record prior to arrival to any call for service or any crime-related interaction with citizens while on duty or working secondary employment.”
According to CMPD's directives guide, “sworn employees shall wear the body-worn camera attached to the outermost garment on the upper, center area of the chest utilizing the issued mounting bracket.”
Officers are required to perform audio and video recording tests before their shifts to make sure cameras are working throughout their shift, and immediately notify their supervisor if there's any kind of malfunction.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
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