CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer will not face charges in the shooting death of an armed man outside of a north Charlotte Burger King earlier this year.
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced Wednesday in a 162-page report that he will not pursue charges against Officer Wende Kerl.
Merriweather said, "the state could not prove to a unanimous jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Wende Kerl’s belief that she faced an imminent threat of death of great bodily harm was unreasonable."
Kerl shot and killed Danquirs Franklin in the parking lot of the Burger King on Beatties Ford Road in March.
Police Chief Kerr Putney told Channel 9 that employees at the Burger King called police after Franklin was acting suspicious and gave the employees an "uneasy feeling." He said 911 calls from inside the restaurant indicated Franklin had a gun.
The district attorney’s report said a female employee said Franklin threatened her, brought their 4 and 7-year-old children to the restaurant, hit her, chased a male employee and jumped on the counter while pointing a gun.
When officers arrived, they spotted Franklin kneeling by a car in the parking lot outside the Burger King.
The Burger King manager in the driver's seat told investigators he was praying with him.
Investigators said Franklin was still armed and officers repeatedly ordered him to drop his weapon.
The report said Kerl was looking for acknowledgment of the demand and was not getting that.
(WATCH BELOW: CMPD Chief Putney speaks about DA's decision)
Kerl said once Franklin reached into his jacket and pulled out a gun, she feared for her life, her partner's life and the passenger's life in the car next to Franklin.
Putney said Kerl felt there was a lethal threat and shot Franklin at least once.
Merriweather said he and senior prosecutors at his office have spent months reviewing information from the investigation such as surveillance video, witness interviews, evidence and body camera footage.
"It was compelling evidence to hear from the passenger of that vehicle, that at the time Mr. Franklin pulled out his weapon even he didn't know whether or not he was going to get shot," Merriweather said.
(Surveillance photo shows Franklin standing on restaurant counter)
Inside the report, the DA included photos of what happened at the Burger King before officers arrived.
Surveillance photos captured Franklin arriving at the restaurant with at least one of his children.
Once inside, cameras recorded Franklin ransacking the restaurant, assaulting someone and at times, standing on the counter.
(Surveillance photo shows Franklin ransacking Burger King)
Merriweather said he included the photos and witness accounts because it is relevant to the legal analysis of the incident and a jury would likely hear this information.
In response to the DA's ruling, Putney said he respected the thorough investigation and believed it was objective.
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He said no matter what, Franklin's death is tragic and two families' lives have been changed dramatically, forever.
CMPD CHIEF PUTNEY RESPONSE:
"The District Attorney reviewed all of the evidence, statements and information that was gathered during the case before making his determination. We respect his work and the effort he and his team committed to objectively reviewing the case.
Mr. Franklin’s death is tragic, regardless of the circumstances. We ask the community to continue to keep his family and the family of Officer Kerl in their thoughts and prayers. All of their lives have been changed as a result of the shooting."
Putney said the department will continue with its internal investigation to make sure any CMPD policies weren't violated.
Kerl is still on paid administrative leave while the internal investigation continues.
According to the report, "after reflection on the incident, Kerl has not changed her opinion on whether the use of force was justified."
Kerl has been with CMPD for 24 years.
The report revealed she has had to pull her weapon several times but the shooting of Franklin was the first time she fired at a suspect.
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