CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Mecklenburg County district attorney said he will not file charges in a deadly shooting involving Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers at the Epicentre in November.
The district attorney said there is not enough evidence in the case to convince a jury that the officers didn’t act in self-defense.
CMPD said no officers were hurt in the shootout.
The chaotic scene unfolded just after 2 a.m. at the intersection of East College and East Trade streets.
Witnesses told Channel 9 two people were in the RedEye Diner together and after, they got into an altercation inside the Epicentre. That’s when they started shooting at each other. Responding officers ran to the area and told the men to drop their guns but were fired upon, according to those witnesses, and that’s when police shot back.
Police did not confirm those witness accounts but the State Bureau of Investigations told Channel 9 at least two CMPD officers fired their service weapons.
Authorities said when the officers got to the scene, someone shot at them so they shot back, hitting one of the suspects.
"They just started shooting," said witness Dedrick Gamble. "When he hit the guy, the police came up behind them and the next thing you know, he was on the ground. I think he was running away with the gun when police fired. It's crazy, it's madness down here."
"First, they were fighting, then they pulled out guns and started shooting at each other," said another witness, Jose Rodriguez. "They were about this close, and they were missing each other. They tumbled, stumbled, one dude was trying to get the gun off him, kept shooting the gun at the floor, ricocheting. The cops was around the corner. I heard the cops say, ‘drop the gun,' but they kept shooting."
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MEDIC said they took two people to the hospital following the shooting. One patient, identified as 33-year-old Treon McCoy, died and the other was expected to survive, police said.
Channel 9 crews saw the district attorney as well as CMPD brass at the scene. A State Bureau of Investigations agent was also spotted.
Dozens of evidence markers could be seen behind the crime scene tape, including one marking what appeared to be a handgun.
The shooting happened just as the bars and nightclubs at the Epicentre were letting out, and people poured into the streets.
Streets around the Epicentre were blocked off for hours, including College Street between Fourth and Trade streets, but reopened by 8 a.m.
Police had cleared the area by 9:30 a.m.
CMPD identified the officers who were involved in the shooting as Kevin Lovell and Shane Mathews. Both are patrol officers who have been with the department since 2013.
Both Lovell and Mathews were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
The latest shooting comes just a few weeks into a new policy where the SBI is called to investigate officer-involved shootings in Charlotte.
When Channel 9 spoke with police last month, they said that since May, 99 assaults were reported within 1,000 feet of the Epicentre. Twenty-two of those were aggravated assaults and five involved a gun.
Uptown saw several high-profile crimes in last year.
In March, police said David Monts shot a man inside an elevator at the AC Hotel at the Epicentre. The victim survived and told police Monts started acting erratically when he got in the elevator with him. Seconds later, they fought over the gun and both were shot.
In April, investigators said a fight that started at the Rooftop 210 Club at the Epicentre ended with someone being shot in the parking deck of the nearby Omni Hotel.
In February, Channel 9 reported that officers spent several months making security changes to cut down on violence at the Epicentre. They block off entrances and escalators, turn off elevators at night, and people under 21 are not allowed after 9 p.m. without a parent.
CMPD said they don't plan to boost security at the popular destination after Friday morning's shooting, however, it has been increased since the shooting in April.
"The decision has to be made, ‘Where do civil liberties end and where does safety begin?'" said Bud Cesena, a law enforcement expert.
Cesena is the former chief of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools law enforcement and a retired CMPD officer.
Security at the Epicenter was its highest level in February during the week of the NBA All-Star Game.
All vehicles were searched for bombs and guns and sweeps included looking in trunks.
That strategy has helped to clean up a troubled nightclub or two in Charlotte.
Cesena said if there were to be more searches, private security would be necessary because, legally, police would be hampered.
He said guns can be kept out of the Epicentre but it could be too intrusive.
"If you're gonna search, you have to search everybody," Cesena said. "You can't pick and choose. You don't want to racially profile folks."
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this developing story.
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