Review board rules in favor of teacher who says she was wrongfully detained by CMPD officers

CHARLOTTE — The Citizens Review Board has ruled in favor of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School teacher who said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers wrongfully detained her.

After a day of hearing from witnesses, the board decided Thursday to overturn CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings’s decision to exonerate the officers. This is only the third time in 25 years that the board has ruled the CMPD Chief “clearly erred” in exonerating the officers.

“To me, it says that the error was so clear. That it was so bad. That they couldn’t rule any other way,” said Jasmine Horne’s attorney, Darlene Harris, after the board’s decision.

It all stems from an incident in summer 2021 when Jasmine Horne told Channel 9 that she was sitting in her car outside her home when CMPD officers quickly moved in.

“I wasn’t stopped, I was ambushed by the police,” she previously told Reporter DaShawn Brown. “I was already sitting in my car in front of my house when they stopped me and they followed me.”

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Her name is similar to the suspect’s name who police were looking for in connection with a June 13 stabbing. Horne said one of the officers even pointed a gun at her because they mistakenly believed her to be the woman they were looking for.

She was handcuffed and put inside a patrol car, according to police. CMPD said she was cooperative, compliant and helped with the investigation. When officers realized Horne was not the suspect they were looking for, she was released within 15 minutes of her first being placed in handcuffs, CMPD said. She wasn’t hurt in the incident and neither were any of the officers, police said.

“There’s been a lot of fear following this,” Harris said about her client. “You imagine you’re minding your business. You’ve done nothing wrong and it’s terrifying.”

In January, CMPD released body camera video of the incident.

In the video, one of the CMPD officers can be heard explaining to the woman’s grandmother and mother what he believed had gone wrong. They said they got an email that the actual suspect was driving the woman’s car.

At that time, Brown sat down with CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings, who said the officers on the scene acted in good faith with the information they had. Jennings said the wrong information was entered into the system.

The department said an internal investigation was conducted by the CMPD Internal Affairs Bureau. The teacher then appealed CMPD’s finding to the Citizens Review Board.

In April, the Citizens Review Board voted 9-0 in favor of Horne, coming to a conclusion that she was wrongfully detained.

After Thursday’s ruling, the board will issue a recommendation to the police chief and city manager. The chief then has seven days to take action and report the decision to the city manager -- who has the final say.

Horne thanked the board and hopes changes will be made to improve the future of CMPD.

“Our city is getting bigger and bigger, and the fact is so many people from different areas moving into our city,” Horne said. “What kind of example are we giving to the people who are coming from different places? Are these people gonna feel safe?”

“Maybe we’re getting a little closer to where things are supposed to be,” Horne’s attorney said.

In 25 years, the CRB has only ruled against the chief two other times -- once in 2017, then in 2019.

“And you think, ‘Well, you all have only ruled against the chief in maybe three of those cases,’” said Board Chair Tonya Jameson. “But the important part is one of the things we have the ability to see are patterns of behavior among CMPD. And so we make recommendations based on the patterns that we see at the department.”

Jennings released a statement the day after the CBR’s decision.

Statement from Chief Jennings:

I believe our officers acted respectfully during the encounter and did their jobs according to the information they were provided at the time. We were looking for a very dangerous individual wanted for a serious violent crime.

“As soon as our officers identified the identity error, they took corrective action, apologized to the individual involved and released her.

“While I stand behind the actions of those officers, I also have a great deal of respect for the CRB and their role in accountability for our agency. I appreciate their review of the case and look forward to receiving their recommendations for consideration to continue to improve our role in serving and protecting our citizens.”

(WATCH BELOW: Channel 9 sits down with CMPD chief on teacher who was mistakenly handcuffed, held at gunpoint)