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Family of Danquirs Franklin Reaches Settlement with City

Sister says settlement brings closure after more than four years

An arm extended past the camera holds a gun pointed at Danquirs Franklin as he squats in a Burker King parking lot, appearing to have a conversation with someone in a car.
A still from Wende Kerl’s body camera footage seconds before she shot Danquirs Franklin.

Four family members of Danquirs Franklin, who was shot and killed by CMPD officer Wende Kerl in the parking lot of a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road in 2019, gathered at a law office in South End on Thursday to announce that they have agreed to a $1.5-million settlement with the city of Charlotte as the result of a lawsuit filed in June 2020.

According to attorney Luke Largess with Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, PLLC, the money left after fees and litigation costs will go to Franklin’s three surviving children, aged 9, 10 and 12.

“The money will help them enormously with the challenges ahead, but it will not replace or bring back their loving father,” Largess said.

Kerl’s body-cam footage of the incident, which occurred on March 25, 2019, shows her arrive on the scene and confront Franklin, who is squatting next to the open door of a vehicle speaking with the general manager of the restaurant. Kerl and fellow officer Larry Deal yell at Franklin to drop his gun, which can’t be seen on the video when they first confront Franklin.

After about 30 seconds, Franklin reaches in his pocket and pulls out the gun, though he doesn’t point it at anyone. When he takes it out of his pocket, Kerl immediately shoots him twice. Franklin can be heard saying “You told me to,” after he was shot, presumably meaning that he was trying to drop the gun when Kerl fired. He did not point the weapon or make any motion to suggest he might point it at any time.

CMPD’s internal investigation found that Kerl was not at fault and District Attorney Spencer Merriweather’s office agreed, releasing a 162-page report in August 2019 that lays out the series of events that led to the shooting and explaining why prosecutors believed the state could not prove to a jury that Kerl’s claims that she perceived an imminent threat from Franklin were “unreasonable.”

In 2020, the Citizens Review Board unanimously found that the shooting was not, in fact, justified and asked then-Chief Kerr Putney to reverse the department’s ruling. He declined and the city upheld his decision, which is when the family filed the lawsuit.

In September 2021, both parties filed for summary judgment, allowing a judge to rule on the case without going through a jury trial. A district court sided with the city and CMPD, ruling that any mistakes made by Kerl during the incident were “reasonable errors.”

The family’s attorneys appealed the ruling and in April 2023 were granted a jury trial. Attorneys planned to argue that Franklin was not posing any reasonable threat when Kerl opened fire, making the shooting unlawful. The case will not go to trial, however, as the city and family reached an agreement following Charlotte City Council’s closed session on Monday night.

“Our anger from four years ago has been replaced almost entirely by sadness. We appreciate the city’s willingness to settle the case and are not here to disparage anyone,” said Largess, later refusing to comment on the fact that Kerl is still employed by CMPD.

He pointed out that the department adopted a new duty-to-intervene policy shortly after Franklin’s shooting, part of the 8 Can’t Wait initiative embarked upon by the department following protests in summer 2020; and that Merriweather’s office announced shortly after Franklin’s shooting that CMPD would no longer carry out internal investigations into police shootings, transferring that responsibility to the NC State Bureau of Investigations.

Danquirs Franklin’s sister, Audrey Joel Brice, spoke at Thursday’s press conference about how much she misses her brother, who she pointed out had never been in trouble with the law before that fateful day.

“I thank God that our family can finally get some closure because this is a pain I don’t wish on anyone,” Brice said, adding that she has worn Franklin’s Olympic High School class ring every day since his death. “It’s the only way I can keep him close to me. I really miss my baby.”

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