Mom of man killed by Pineville officer says he struggled with mental illness

PINEVILLE, N.C. — The family of a man killed in a police shooting last month says he should still be here.

Cleopatra Bodden said her son Dennis Bodden was her only son and that she raised him by herself.

She said on Monday the Pineville Police Department’s information that he was killed after allegedly shoplifting is not how he should be remembered. She said he should be remembered as the special person he was.

“They did not see Dennis as a human being, but as someone that could be discarded,” she said Monday.

Pineville police said Cleopatra Bodden’s son was shoplifting on May 14 before he was shot and killed by an officer. The officer shot him after he allegedly reached for that officer’s gun, police said. They said Bodden had also been shocked with a Taser before he was shot.

His mother said Bodden had bipolar disorder as well as schizophrenia. She believes a mental health team should have responded instead of police.

“I’m here to fight for my son’s honor,” Cleopatra said. “Thanks to everyone on my son’s behalf. Dennis’ family loves him and he did not deserve to be assassinated by Pineville police officers.”

In a statement, Pineville police said they do not have a mental health unit. They said the responding officers are both certified in different de-escalation techniques.

Pineville police also said they were not aware of Dennis Bodden’s mental health condition.

Bodden said her son’s mental illness escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said he had a law degree, which he used to defend people struggling with mental illnesses before his own worsened.

She also claimed officers in the area knew him and should have handled the situation differently. His aunt agreed.

“I want the people of North Carolina and the world to know, Dennis was a wonderful individual,” Julia Bodden said Monday. “He didn’t deserve what happened.”

Julia Bodden said Pineville’s police chief did call the family to apologize.

The Bodden family and the NAACP’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg chapter want all footage of the shooting to be released. They’re also calling for a new third-party investigation.

The Pineville Police Department shared the following statement in response to the Bodden family’s allegations Monday:

“On Monday 06/03/2024, Pineville Police watched the press conference from the Bodden family and we would like to respectfully respond to the following questions our police department has received.

  1. “The Pineville Police Department was NOT aware of any mental health concerns regarding Mr. Dennis Bodden. He did not live in the Pineville Police Department’s jurisdiction. We only had one documented contact with Mr. Dennis Bodden on 04/03/2024 which he was banned from this Food Lion. Mr. Dennis Bodden had already left the scene on previous 911 calls for service at this Food Lion.
  2. “The officers involved were NOT aware of Mr. Dennis Bodden’s history of mental illness.
  3. “The Pineville Police Department does not have a mental health unit. The officer involved and his back-up officer are both Critical Incident Team (C.I.T.) certified through Mecklenburg County and internally trained under Integrating Communications Assessments and Tactics (ICAT). ICAT is a de-escalation model created by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
  4. “The estimated value of the groceries stolen from Food Lion on 05/14/2024 was $83.95. This includes numerous bottles of wine and produce items. Mr. Bodden had two outstanding warrants for felony breaking and entering and felony larceny after breaking and entering, all of which took place at this same Food Lion.
  5. “The Pineville police chief did reach out to the Bodden family and spoke on the phone with them. This phone call was out of compassion and empathy for the Bodden family. We as police officers all have a high level of human decency and wish to treat everyone with dignity and respect. This includes family members we have never met before.
  6. “Both the officer involved and the back-up officer are on paid administrative leave pending the joint parallel (criminal & internal) investigations.
  7. “CMPD is investigating the criminal investigation regarding this incident as the third party. Pineville Police would always have a third party independent criminal investigation unit come in under situations such as an officer-involved shooting whether it be CMPD or the NCSBI. The decision to use CMPD as the investigating body was decided between Pineville Police and the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.”

(WATCH BELOW: Town of Pineville relocates substation plans to new property)

Eli Brand

Eli Brand, wsoctv.com

Eli is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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