• Eight CMPD officers placed on leave after deadly shooting

    By: Mark Becker

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - One person is dead and a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer is recovering after being shot in the ankle while serving a warrant Sunday night.

    Officers said they were searching for Germonta Wallace, 30, who was wanted for the murder of Norris Martin that happened on Dec. 30, 2015.

    When officers arrived just before 10 p.m. at a home off Watson Drive, Wallace and Marquez Breon Springs-Owens, 29, came outside, according to police.

    Police said Wallace started firing at the officers, and Officer Jessica Zinobile was struck in the ankle by the gunfire.

    She suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. Police said multiple detectives returned gunfire and killed Wallace. Officials do not think Springs-Owens fired at the officers. 

    Neighbors said they heard dozens of shots.

    “It was just really crazy last night,” Oquesha Crawford said.

    Crawford and her little boy, Zion, were right across the street when the shooting started.

    “It was really chaotic. I just heard about 20 gunshots. My husband told me just to get down, stay down,  make sure our son is safe,” Crawford said.

    When it stopped Wallace was dead, and Springs-Owens had briefly barricaded himself in a nearby apartment. 

    Police talked him out and said he, along with Wallace and James Evans, killed 34-year-old Norris Martin last week.

    After investigating, detectives charged Springs-Owens with the murder of Norris Martin. 

    Police found Martin's body in the trunk of a car in Gaston County that someone had set on fire.

    A white wreath hangs on the door of Martin's home in north Charlotte but no one there wanted to speak Monday.

    Channel 9 learned that Wallace had been down that road before.

    He was charged with murder in 2009, pleaded guilty to manslaughter two years later, and spent more than four years in prison.

    He had free for less than four months when police came last night to arrest him again.

    Zinobile is expected to recover.

    Eight officers have been placed on paid administrative, which is standard protocol when an officer fires his or her service weapon.  

    Internal Affairs Bureau is conducting a separate but parallel investigation. 

    In 2015, there were 62 homicides in Charlotte, the most in the city has seen since 2008. 

    In November, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney told the City Council that violent crime was up 17.5 percent from last year, as he made a case for needing more resources, officers, and help in recruiting staff. 

    CMPD staffing has stayed roughly the same while the population of Charlotte-Mecklenburg has grown by 120,000 residents.

    Councilwoman Julie Eiselt, chair of the Community Safety Committee, said she would need to see a comprehensive plan before approving more officers, but plans to address recruiting concerns.

    "What can we do to work with community leaders to address that problem?" Eiselt said.

    That's the question she said she wants the committee to address.

    "It has to come from the community and the community has got to buy into supporting the police department," she said.

    CMPD told Channel 9, "We have an appropriate complement of personnel that will allow the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team carry out its mission. We also have the ability to pull and realign other department resources if we see the need in the future."

    The following officers are on leave:

    • Joshua Allman, hired on Sept. 25, 2006, assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.
    • Tim Kiefer, hired on Jan. 22, 2007, assigned to the K9 Unit.
    • David Michaud, hired on Sept. 21, 1994, assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.
    • Vaughn Pauls, hired on Aug. 18, 1999, assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.
    • Donald Penix, hired on July 30, 1997, assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.
    • Eric Peterson, hired on May 20, 1987, assigned to the Special Operations Division.
    • Jeremy Towe, hired on Sept. 21, 2001, assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.
    • Jessica Zinobile, hired on Sept. 27, 2004, assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.

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