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5 Things to Know: Pineville Police Sergeant Kills Unarmed Shoplifting Suspect

...and four more stories from May 12-18, 2024

The Food Lion where a man allegedly shoplifted before a Pineville Police sergeant shot and killed him
Tuesday’s incident in which a Pineville Police sergeant shot and killed a suspected shoplifter began at a Food Lion in Johnston Road Plaza in Pineville. (Photo via Google Images)

Pineville Police Sergeant Kills Unarmed Shoplifting Suspect

The Pineville Police Department (PPD) on Wednesday afternoon released its version of events in an incident that saw an off-duty PPD sergeant shoot and kill an unarmed man suspected of shoplifting on the border of Pineville and Charlotte Tuesday afternoon.

Pineville Police confirmed that the officer was in uniform, working security in the McMullen Creek Market shopping center in Pineville when he engaged with a man who was believed to be shoplifting from a Food Lion in the nearby Johnston Road Plaza.

According to the department, the unnamed sergeant first confronted the man, identified as 46-year-old Dennis Bodden, in the parking lot, where Bodden allegedly refused to stop before crossing Johnston Road to the Berkshire Place apartments in Charlotte, where a physical confrontation occurred.

The sergeant reportedly used his Taser on Bodden, who continued to walk away. A back-up Pineville Police officer then arrived and reportedly used his Taser as well, which had “little to no effect on Bodden,” according to the release.

According to the Pineville Police Department statement, “[Bodden] lunged towards our sergeant and tried to grab his service weapon, ending up with the use of deadly force.”

The department states that Bodden was well known to Pineville Police officers as a “chronic shoplifting suspect” from that Food Lion specifically and for having “violent tendencies towards police and the public.”

PPD’s familiarity with Bodden has caused some community members to question whether more could have been done to de-escalate the situation, especially considering the nonviolent nature of the original call.

Pineville Police have not said whether the sergeant who shot Bodden was wearing a body camera, which could confirm the threat that the sergeant claims he faced. PPD officers do wear body-worn cameras while on duty, which means the back-up officer who arrived before the shooting was likely wearing one.

Robert Dawkins with community advocacy and police accountability organization Action NC said he will be pushing for the release of any footage of the incident in the coming week.

“If the police department can set conditions around police serving as security off-duty, one of those should be on wearing body-worn cameras,” Dawkins told Queen City Nerve.

Because the killing occurred in Charlotte, CMPD is leading the criminal homicide investigation, while PPD says it is overseeing its own internal/administrative investigation. Because the sergeant was off-duty at the time of the killing, the NC State Bureau of Investigation will not lead an investigation into the incident.

NC Senate Passes Bill That Would Ban Mask-Wearing in Public

Voting along party lines, the NC Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would ban mask-wearing in public, even for medical reasons. Presented and pushed through the Senate by Republicans, if passed the bill would repeal the health and safety exemption from certain laws prohibiting the wearing of masks in public, enhance the criminal punishment for people who wear masks during the commission of a crime, and impose criminal and civil liability on individuals who obstruct emergency vehicles during demonstrations.

Opponents have attacked the bill as an attack on freedom of speech and the right to protest as well as a health risk for immunocompromised people and anyone concerned with their health in a world still struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victoria Coble launched a petition on May 9 opposing House Bill 237, also titled the “Unmasking Mobs and Criminals” bill, mainly focusing on the potential criminalization of wearing masks for medical reasons such as limiting COVID-19 exposure or protecting immunocompromised individuals. As of Saturday morning the petition had more than 7,400 signatures.

House Bill 237 would criminalize the blockage of traffic and the wearing of masks during protests or at any time statewide. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

“I am immunocompromised,” wrote one signee, Julia Lam. “I am suffering from incurable conditions triggered by COVID-19. We need to make public spaces accessible to all.”

NAACP North Carolina released a statement calling the bill “a thinly veiled attempt to suppress dissent in response to recent protests advocating for Palestinian human rights and against police brutality.”

“This bill is a direct assault on the fundamental right to protest, a cornerstone of our democracy,” the statement reads. “We urge lawmakers to reject HB 237 and instead focus on addressing the root causes of the protests: systemic racism, police violence, and social inequities. Protecting protest ensures that public spaces remain arenas for democratic expression, where communities can celebrate victories, mourn losses, and demand accountability from their leaders.”

Mayor Announces Launch of Small Business Growth Fund

Mayor Vi Lyles joined other city leaders at a press conference on Tuesday morning to announce the launch of the Charlotte Small Business Growth Fund (CSBGF), which will invest $40 million in loans to more than 2,000 local businesses over the next four years with a focus on underserved small businesses in Charlotte, including those that are minority- and women-owned.

Part of the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative, which launched two years ago, CSBGF loans will range in size from $1,000 to $250,000 with fixed interest rates of 9% to 12% and origination and application fees ranging from 3% to 5%.

Community leaders gathered at Tuesday’s press conference (left to right): Brett Simmons, CEO of Scale Link; Lisa and Bryan Moore, owners of NoDa Bodega; Mayor Vi Lyles; William McNeely, founder of Do Greater Charlotte; Nate Hogan, president of CLT Alliance Foundation. (Photo courtesy of CLT Alliance Foundation)

“As a top destination for new businesses, Charlotte has one of the most vibrant economies in the country,” Lyles said on Tuesday. “With the Charlotte Small Business Growth Fund, we aim to level the playing field, ensuring every resident shares in our city’s growth and has equitable access to entrepreneurial opportunities.”

The fund is managed and operated by Scale Link, a community development financial institution (CDFI) that expands access to inclusive small business lending through its nationwide secondary market to buy and sell small business loans originated by CDFIs.

Business owners interested in receiving funding through the fund can learn more and apply online at the Charlotte Small Business Growth Fund website.

County Health Department Warns of Rise in Whooping Cough

Health officials are raising concerns after a spike in whooping cough cases in Mecklenburg County. According to a release from Mecklenburg County Public Health on Tuesday, there have been nine confirmed cases and one suspected case of pertussis in the county thus far this year.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause severe coughing fits. The disease is most commonly spread to children under the age of 17, but it can also affect adults. Immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women are at the highest risk of severe illness.

Pertussis and whooping cough symptoms include severe coughing fits that make it hard to breathe, eat, or sleep; whooping sound after a cough; vomiting after coughing; runny or stuffy nose; low-grade fever (may not be present). While no hospitalizations have been reported, health officials say the increase in cases is a worrisome trend because the disease can be life-threatening for babies under the age of 17.

Health officials reminded residents of the importance of vaccination in preventing the spread of pertussis. The county says if you are uninsured, you can get vaccinated at no cost. Anyone with questions about vaccination can contact their doctor or local health department.

County Manager Presents Proposed Budget

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio presented her recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2025 to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on Thursday.

The $2.5-billion recommended budget features a 5.5% increase, or $130 million, over the current FY2024 operating budget. To fund that increase, Diorio is recommending a tax rate of 48.81 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That represents a 1.5-cent increase in the tax rate — one cent that was previously scheduled to fund the Capital Improvement Plan adopted last year, and a half cent to maintain Mecklenburg County’s services.

The Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing to receive public input on the recommended budget on May 23 at 6 p.m. You can sign up to speak through the county website. You can view the proposed budget in its entirety here.

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