CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released body camera video Monday afternoon of an officer fatally shooting a man outside a Burger King last month.
Last Thursday, a judge ordered CMPD to release the video by Monday. The department released the video at 2 p.m.
>> WATCH BELOW: Body camera video shows the deadly encounter. Due to the graphic nature of the video, Eyewitness News has decided to freeze-frame the footage at the moment the shots are fired.
Charlotte leaders, including Mayor Vi Lyles, held a news conference at 10:30 a.m. ahead of the release of the video.
"It's another really sad moment and reminder that the responsibilities of law enforcement are, and will always be, immense," Mayor Lyles said. "In the blink of an eye, their jobs require an instantaneous decision, and that's something none of us should take lightly."
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said the department was prepared for protests following the release of the video.
"We expect this to be people voicing their opinion. We expect it to be peaceful," he said.
Putney was asked about his response to seeing the video.
“It’s like a punch to the gut. It's hard to watch. It's hard to see. Because a life has been lost. Just like any other time you see somebody lose their life. I hope you’ll do what we’re doing and pray for Miss Franklin and her family. Pray for our officers, whose lives have been destroyed as well. Come together as a community and be heard. But be lawful,” the chief said.
Putney said that the video is hard to watch but that there is "clear and compelling evidence" that Franklin was armed.
Lyles urged the community to engage in a peaceful discourse about what happened. She hoped for peace across the city upon the video's release and was emotional at times.
"I'm looking for the best of our city. The best of our people," she said. "What we do as leaders makes all the difference in the world. He (Franklin) was someone's son. He's a dad. Isn't that the right time to be emotional? That police officer had to go through this. Isn't it the right time to understand the depth of emotions for everyone? So yes, I am emotional. And it's for the right reason."
Police have said Officer Wende Kerl killed 27-year-old Danquirs Napoleon Franklin at the restaurant in late March. They said Kerl fired when an armed Franklin refused to drop his weapon.
In the video released on Monday, Kerl can be seen arriving at the Burger King, getting out of her patrol vehicle with her gun drawn, and repeatedly ordering Franklin, who is squatting beside the passenger side of a vehicle, with the door open, to drop his weapon.
After multiple commands to drop the weapon, Franklin begins to move and Kerl fires, striking him.
Scott MacLatchie, a police attorney who has tried many officer-involved shootings, said what’s key to him is time. Franklin takes more than 40 seconds to respond.
“He wasn’t cooperating for a long time,” MacLatchie said.
While it may be difficult to see if Franklin is armed, Kerl removes a gun from under his body after the shooting.
"It was clear there was a gun even if initially when you started hearing the commands you couldn't see it,” MacLatchie said.
After Franklin was shot, he says something, believed to be, “You told me,” before his voice trailed off.
Franklin’s family comforted each other Monday after watching their loved one’s last moments.
“Up until this point we've been silent and only wanted the truth to come out, but we also wanted to see it because it was the last moments of his life,” his cousin James Barnett said.
NAACP President Corine Mack said the video made her sick to her stomach.
“When I saw that video, I wanted to hurt somebody,” Mack said at a rally at Marshall Park.
She added, “If I felt that way, imagine how the family felt.”
Following the release of the body camera footage, several groups, community, and state leaders released statements, including State Representative Chaz Beasley from Mecklenburg County.
"This video is beyond troubling. Those of us in positions of leadership cannot continue to be silent on issues like these - we have a responsibility to do more to stop this from happening in the future. Building trust between the community and law enforcement is a deliberate process that requires hard work. I am very concerned that this shooting makes building that trust even harder than before.”
>>Watch the video below to hear more from Franklin’s family and his family’s attorney.
CMPD Incident Summary:
On March 25, 2019, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department received two separate 911 calls, both in reference to an armed individual who entered the business at 2601 Beatties Ford Road. The first caller frantically said she needed police quickly because the individual entered the store, walked behind the counter with a gun and was pointing it at an employee. The second caller frantically said she needed police because an individual had approached her vehicle while she was waiting for food in the parking lot of the business and pulled out a gun. Both callers independently called 911 between 9:00 a.m. and 9:02 a.m.
An assault with a deadly weapon with no injury call for service was entered at 9:01 a.m. Metro Division Officer Wende Kerl and Metro Division Officer Larry Deal were dispatched to the call for service at 9:02 a.m. and they both arrived at 9:04 a.m. A description of the individual was given to both officers over the radio, and in addition, our Real Time Crime Center was monitoring the call and directed the officers over the radio to his exact location. Both Officers exited their vehicle in the parking lot and observed an individual, later identified as Danquirs Franklin, squatting next to an open front passenger door of a vehicle that was parked in a parking space at the business. Both officers gave several commands to Mr. Franklin to drop the gun. A short time later, Officer Kerl perceived an imminent, deadly threat and subsequently fired her department issued firearm two times, striking Mr. Franklin. He was transported to Atrium Health where he was pronounced deceased a short time later.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Homicide Unit is currently investigating this matter. At the conclusion of their investigation, all of the evidence will be turned over to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office for their review.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting had argued that releasing the video may impact the ongoing criminal investigation.
Kerl's attorney, Jeremy Smith, argued the release would endanger his client's safety.
Last week, CMPD announced it is revamping its use of force policy.
Chief Kerr Putney would not speak specifically about last month's shooting but said the entire department has embraced the idea of focusing more on de-escalation.
Putney, Lyles and City Manager Marcus Jones took questions from the public at a meeting Tuesday morning.
Many questions came up about de-escalation.
Lyles said the police chief and city leaders will take a closer look at training and could even draw from the training of SWAT officers.
"When we've had our SWAT teams in, we've had no loss of life in the experiences of the number that they have. If we have that kind of training, what does it include that perhaps needs to be included to all officers? We'll start thinking about that,” Lyles said.
CMPD's Internal Affairs Bureau and the district attorney's office will decide whether Kerl will be disciplined or cleared in this case.
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