• Woman wants apology after accidental shooting on New Year's Eve

    Updated:

    BELMONT, N.C. - A Belmont woman is speaking out for the first time after she and a Belmont police officer were accidentally shot inside her garage on New Year's Eve.

    It happened while she was involved in a struggle with police.

    Verner said they used too much force when they burst into her home.

    "They came to grab me and turn me around and had one wrist behind my back," she said.

    She said at first she didn't know the men inside her garage were police officers.

    "I was confused and scared and angry," she said.

    Verner said she was swearing and yelling at them to get away.

    "I was so scared I peed my pants, literally, as embarrassing at that sounds," she said.

    They struggled and one of the officer's guns, a submachine gun, discharged into the ground. Shrapnel hit her leg. Verner showed Eyewitness News the injuries.

    Another officer, Officer Randy Berry, was hit as well. He is expected to recover.

    It happened just after police handcuffed her boyfriend, Brandon Watts, and her mother, Andrea Verner.

    "No one ever told me what was going on," Andrea Verner said. "They asked me who else is inside, who's inside, and I got so scared, I thought, they shot everybody inside and we're being robbed."

    READ the story original story on the shooting New Year's Eve.

    Belmont Police Chief Charlie Franklin said it started when a man called them saying a driver was tailgating him and believed he had fired a gun.

    He said police tracked the car to the Verners' home.

    They said Melissa Verner was belligerent and that officers felt she was going to reach for one of their guns, which she denies.

    Watts didn't want to talk on camera but said he wasn't tailgating and had a firecracker, not a gun.

    Eyewitness News called Chief Franklin several times and left messages but did not hear back.

    An officer at the station said they had no further comment beyond the chief's remarks made the day after the incident detailing the events.

    The Verners' attorney, Adam Seifer of law firm SeiferFlatow, said the Verners have no criminal history and police overreacted.

    "You can't exceed the force necessary," he said.

    They want a public apology from Franklin.

    "I think the police were out of line," Melissa Verner said. "They had no right to come in our home the way they did."
    No one has been charged or arrested in the case.

    The SBI is investigating. Belmont police are also doing an internal investigation but wouldn't say when it is expected to be finished.


    Next Up: