Charges Dropped in Violent November Arrest
A judge on Thursday ordered that CMPD release all footage related to the Nov. 13 arrest of Christina Pierre and her fiancé, Tony Lee, outside of a Bojangles where they both work in south Charlotte. CMPD had requested the order, which won’t be implemented until Charlotte City Council is able to watch all the footage together during a closed session later this month.
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced Wednesday that his office would drop all charges related to the arrest, including charges of illegal gun possession against Lee and assault on a police officer against Pierre.
“After consideration of the body-worn camera evidence and the various recorded accounts of police and civilian witnesses present, based on the totality of the circumstances, the State does not have a reasonable likelihood of success at any potential trial on this matter,” a prosecutor wrote in Pierre’s dismissal documents.
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings voiced his disappointment with the decision the drop the charges on Wednesday, adding that it “would not change the way we [CMPD] enforce the laws we swore to uphold.”
No charges will be brought against any of the officers involved in the arrest, either.
Charlotte City Council will meet for a swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Dec. 4 but will not view the video until the following Monday, Dec. 11, after its business meeting.
Officers engaged with Lee and Pierre following a call about a suspicious person or people smoking weed at the bus stop. The two were later found to be smoking legally sold cannabis flower at the time of the incident.
The first officer on the scene claimed Pierre punched him as he approached. An eyewitness told Queen City Nerve that, before the video started rolling, the first officers to arrive at the scene threw Lee and Pierre to the ground without any such instigation.
Queen City Nerve will follow up with footage released by CMPD when it is released later this month.
City Announces E-Bike Program in North Graham, Tryon Corridors
The city of Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity team announced Wednesday the launch of an electric bike pilot program at The McNeel Apartments complex in north Charlotte’s Double Oaks neighborhood, part of the North Graham/North Tryon corridor.
The partnership with DreamKey Partners, an affordable housing organization, will allow new homeowners in the area access to an e-bike when they purchase a home and give residents of The McNeel Apartments access to a dock of free-use e-bikes that will be regularly maintained by the city’s Department of Transportation.
The program was launched with help from a $300,000 donation by Wells Fargo Championship. It aims to provide hundreds of residents with new e-bikes, improving mobility throughout the corridor and increasing access to jobs and opportunities, according to a release from the city. The program aligns with the Corridors of Opportunity initiative’s goal to foster thriving communities for residents and businesses, build lasting legacies and grow communities equitably, the release states.
“Ensuring that corridor residents are able to travel easily throughout the city is a crucial part of the Corridors of Opportunity program,” said District 1 Charlotte City Council member Danté Anderson in the release. “The e-bikes will create reliable transportation and strengthen connections to the resources residents need to thrive.”
The three-year pilot program will study the impact of e-bikes on low- and moderate-income families as an alternative option for accessing nearby transit services and major employment centers. The outcome of the pilot will determine if the program should be scaled to additional corridors to benefit underserved communities like Sugar Creek/Interstate 85, Albemarle Road/Central Avenue, Beatties Ford Road/Rozzelles Ferry Road, West Boulevard, and Freedom Drive/Wilkinson Boulevard.
Teacher Arrested for Sexual Relationship with Student
CMPD on Thursday announced the Wednesday arrest of a 26-year-old South Mecklenburg High School teacher after she was allegedly caught having sex with one of her 18-year-old students outside of school grounds.
The department stated that “it was discovered” the two had engaged in sexual activity at Park Road Park. The student’s mom reportedly caught the two in the act after tracking her son through an app.
The teacher has been charged with five counts of felony sexual activity with a student by teacher. The teacher was released from jail on a $75,000 bond Thursday morning and appeared in court later that afternoon, where a judge ordered her to wear an electronic monitoring device and cut off all contact with the student in question.
Local Software Firm Announces Corporate HQ in Camp North End
Charlotte-based Mentra, the software company behind a hiring platform that matches neurodivergent people with fulfilling careers, announced Wednesday that it has chosen Camp North End as the location for its first office and corporate headquarters.
Mentra’s founding story stems from the personal experiences of Jhillika Kumar, whose nonspeaking autistic brother Vikram learned to type for the first time at age 27, according to a Wednesday release. Watching him express himself and share his talents, Jhillika was impassioned to use the power of accessible technology to unleash the cognitive potential of humanity, the release states. In 2019, while studying at Georgia Tech, Kumar and fellow student Conner Reinhardt, both neurodivergent, joined forces and founded Mentra.
Through humanistic AI and community-driven design, the hiring platform analyzes one’s neurotype to optimize for job fulfillment and a successful career, the release stated. The company has more than 42,000 job seekers and is working with enterprises across big tech and finance to place job seekers in 10 cities nationwide, Charlotte being the top one, as Mentra’s largest clients-to-date are Fortune 500 banks.
“While our placements span the nation, our investors are largely located in the Bay Area and New York,” said Reinhardt. “By setting up our headquarters in Charlotte’s Camp North End, we’re located at the heart of innovation alongside other creative entrepreneurs. This allows us to attract local talent and expand our pools of both candidates and employers while also enjoying the benefits of a smaller city.”
Jennings Announces New Community Relations Group
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings announced the formation of a “Community and Police Collaboration Group” on Tuesday. The group will be put together by the department and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations (CMCR) committee to collectively review certain CMPD policies and provide the organization with recommendations for consideration.
“Community perspectives are crucial in policy review and implementation,” said CMCR Deputy Director Terry Bradley. “Through the work of this group, we have an opportunity to build better understanding and strengthen the community-law enforcement relationship.”
Commencing this month, these meetings will bring together faith-based leaders, community leaders and organizers representing various entities including the Citizens Review Board, CMCR, the NAACP, Action NC, clergy members and the Latin American Coalition.
The objective of these gatherings is to culminate in June 2024 with the presentation of policy recommendations to the CMPD.
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