CMPD Identifies Man Killed in Police Shooting Friday
Police have identified a man killed in a police shooting Friday night as 33-year-old Derrell Raney. Two CMPD officers are on administrative leave as the State Bureau of Investigations investigates the incident. According to the CMPD version of events, the officers shot and killed Raney in a Walmart parking lot on Friday night after he allegedly threatened a security guard there with a gun.
According to CMPD, the two police officers involved in the shooting were already at the Walmart located in east Charlotte at the intersection of Albemarle and Harrisburg roads when a security guard approached them and stated that a man, later identified as 33-year-old Derrell Raney, had threatened him with a gun. The two officers approached Raney, at which time he allegedly pointed his weapon at them. They opened fire, striking Raney.
MEDIC responded to the scene and transported Raney to the hospital, where he later died. No officers were injured in the incident. The police officers involved in the shooting have been identified as James Longworth and Micah Edmunds, hired onto the department in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
During a press conference held at the scene, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said officers did not have time to speak to the man, let alone implement any sort of de-escalation techniques.
“It takes two to de-escalate, so we have to be able to talk to that individual and communicate with that individual,” Chief Jennings said. “When you’re met with a firearm being pointed at you, there’s just absolutely no time to do that.”
As has been policy for since 2019, the State Bureau of Investigations will take over the investigation of the police shooting, while both officers will be placed on administrative leave, as is policy whenever an officer fires their weapon. The CMPD Internal Affairs Bureau will also conduct a separate but parallel investigation to determine whether department policies and procedures were adhered to during the incident.
Jennings confirmed that both officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting. Surveillance footage from the nearby shopping center may have also captured the incident.
CMS Leaders Face Criticism in Wake of Sexual Assault Scandal
CMS leaders have faced criticism from students and parents alike this week for their response to a 15-year-old girl’s allegations of sexual assault at Hawthorne Academy high school. The girl reported the assault, which she said occurred in a bathroom stall at the school, after sitting through a Title IX class early in the school year. The school notified the police, who investigated and later pressed charges of sexual battery against the suspect, who is a minor and has not been identified.
Despite the results of the police investigation, the school later claimed there was no evidence of an assault and suspended the victim late in October for filing a false report. She was also told she would need to attend a class titled “Sexual Harassment is Preventable.”
On Wednesday, nearly 100 students walked out of class in protest of the school’s response. The school’s principal, Diann Weston, has refused to comment on the story. On Tuesday, multiple CMS board members dodged questions from WBTV’s Nick Ochsner, who has done much of the reporting around this incident.
In a statement released to parents, CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston wrote: “As a parent, I understand the concerns many families are sharing about news coverage of incidents of misconduct. It is difficult for me to not give in to the parental instinct of providing information to help others gain a better understanding of situations, which many times prove more complex than news reports might lead one to conclude.
“As the leader of the district, I am bound by law to not disclose confidential information about such matters as individual student discipline or ongoing police investigations. We take all allegations of misconduct very seriously, and our staff is trained to follow proper procedures in reporting. District leaders review assertions of Title IX reporting problems and will take appropriate action in the event any review reveals action is necessary.”
City Celebrates Opening of New West End Community Space
City and community leaders on Saturday celebrated the opening of The Ritz at Washington Heights, a public gathering space in the city’s Historic West End featuring a café-style seating, public art, a play area, performance space and plaza.
The new public space is located at Tate Street and Beatties Ford Road, former site of The Ritz Theater, which was the last Black movie theater built in Charlotte during segregation. The Ritz Theater was open until 1971 and was demolished after sitting vacant for years. Residents of the Washington Heights neighborhood plan to hold movie nights at the new space to commemorate its historic and cultural significance.
“Today’s announcement is proof that the Corridors of Opportunity program is working to resurrect aspects of history and culture along Beatties Ford Road, while gaining support from our private partners,” said Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham during Saturday morning’s event.
The project was made possible by a $200,000 grant from Lowe’s 100 Hometowns initiative and a $50,000 grant from the city’s Corridors of Opportunity program. Instead of a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, the inauguration featured sawing a two-by-four.
“We are grateful to the placemaking champions — Lowe’s 100 Hometowns Grant and the city of Charlotte Corridors of Opportunity funding, to build an inclusive, innovative, community-driven, equitable public space co-created with residents,” said president of the Historic Washington Heights Mattie Marshall. “We must always remember that any placemaking project must uplift the people with dignity and respect honoring that strong sense of pride and place.”
COVID Test-Positivity Rate Drops to 5.5%
The first COVID-19 data update since county commissioners changed the metrics that will allow for the lifting of the local mask mandate shows the test-positivity rate dropping close to the 5% average needed to lift the mandate, though we’re not quite there yet.
According to the latest data released by Mecklenburg County Public Health on Friday, there were 1,070 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed among Mecklenburg County residents over the past week and 5 deaths resulting from the coronavirus, making 1,260 total deaths throughout the pandemic.
According to more in-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday, there had been an average of 152 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day over the past week, and on average, 152 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on any given day, both decreasing trends. Wednesday’s 5.5% test-positivity rate among county residents was a notable decrease from the rate of 7.1% reported a week prior.
According to that same data, 61% of Mecklenburg County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 57% are fully vaccinated. Neither of those percentages have moved a single point in weeks, though the launch of vaccinations for children aged 5-11 this week will surely affect numbers in the weeks to come.
Man Charged with Manslaughter in Shooting Death
Though the investigation of Friday night’s police killing is still under investigation, there were no killings deemed as murders in Charlotte this week. One man is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, however, for a killing in southeast Charlotte.
According to CMPD, officers responded to a call regarding a car break-in on McAlpine Glen Drive at around 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Shortly after arriving, police received another call about a suspicious person a couple blocks over on the same street. While investigating that call, police found 17-year-old Moises Hernandez suffering from a gunshot wound. MEDIC transported Hernandez to the hospital, where he later died. Following further investigation, police arrested 26-year-old Dalton Neel and charged him with involuntary manslaughter.