D.A. Announces No Charges in Danquirs Franklin Shooting
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced on Wednesday that CMPD officer Wende Kerl, who shot and killed 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin in a Burger King parking lot on March 25, will not face charges related to the shooting. A 162-page report released by Merriweather on Wednesday lays out the series of events that led to the shooting, and explains why he and his team of prosecutors believe the state could not prove to a jury that Kerl’s claims that she perceived an imminent threat from Franklin were “unreasonable.”
A key point of the report is Kerl’s claims that she could not see Franklin’s hands as he crouched next to a red Honda, where she confronted him. According to Kerl, because she was responding to reports that a man fitting Franklin’s description was terrorizing Burger King employees and customers with a gun — later confirmed in Merriweather’s report — she believed he was still holding said gun when she confronted him.
In Kerl’s body-worn camera footage, it’s clear that Franklin’s gun was in his pocket and not in his hand. After repeatedly telling Franklin to drop the gun, he reaches in his pocket and removes it, holding it by the barrel and not the handle, before being shot. He can be heard telling Kerl, “You told me to,” before losing consciousness.
In Merriweather’s report, he said that, though it is clear in a frame-by-frame breakdown of the video that Franklin was retrieving his gun in order to drop it, Kerl could not have been aware of that in real time.
“As the body-worn camera depicts [Franklin] apparently saying, ‘You told me to…,’ instantly after he was shot, this evidence alone, while leaving this outcome all the more tragic, is insufficient to prove the unreasonableness of Officer Kerl’s perceptions and assumptions of the danger [Franklin] presented before the shots were fired,” Merriweather wrote in the report.
Merriweather stated that, “Given the circumstances, the risk of serious harm to Officers Kerl and [fellow responding officer] Deal, and especially to … the passenger of the Honda, is compelling.”
The Honda’s passenger, who is the general manager at that Burger King location, said in his statement that he had arrived at the scene after the disturbance and was able to calm Franklin down, even praying with him before officers arrived. However, he did tell police that, when Franklin took the gun out of his pocket, “I didn’t know if I was getting ready to get shot or whatever.”
Statements from employees and customers in the store told that Franklin arrived at the Burger King with two children that he shared with one of the employees. Franklin was reportedly upset that another employee, who was also working that day, had been dating the children’s mother. He chased the male employee around the building with a gun, before returning to the store and assaulting his children’s mother.
In her statement, the children’s mother stated that Franklin was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been acting erratically in recent months. He had reportedly checked into a behavioral health facility weeks before the incident. The woman stated that she had hidden his gun while he was at the facility, but he later found it under the seat of her car.
“These were serious offenses,” Merriweather wrote of the incidents that led up to the shooting that day, “and, obviously, I would rather have seen [Franklin] face trial for each of them. None of those offenses that day warranted his death, and nothing stated in the analysis … should suggest otherwise.”
City Leaders Join Gun Violence Discussion at Johnson C. Smith
Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts was the featured speaker at an event hosted by the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation on Thursday night, during which six speakers, including Watts, discussed solutions to rising gun violence in Charlotte and around the country.
Joining Watts on stage at Johnson C. Smith University on Thursday was former N.C. Sen. Malcolm Graham, whose sister Cynthia Graham Hurd was murdered at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015; U.S. Rep. Alma Adams; Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden; David Jacobs, MD, medical director of trauma services with Atrium Health; and Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Guns in west Charlotte.
While Adams and Watts pushed for tougher gun laws, including more restrictive background checks for gun buyers, McFadden and Hyatt spoke about the need for gun owners to better secure their guns. “I do know the legal gun buyer is not the problem,” Hyatt said. He then expressed that many gun owners are equally disgusted by gun violence, but fear that policies being pushed by Watts will only lead to them losing access to their own guns.
Throughout the night, Watts emphasized that many Moms Demand Action members and their loved ones are gun owners, and that her organization’s main goal is to make background checks more in-depth, so as to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unwell people and domestic abusers.
Jacobs, for his part, expressed concern with the social issues that lead to gun violence.
“Everyone in Charlotte knows about the crescent,” he said, referring to the low-income neighborhoods in east, west and north Charlotte that surround affluent south Charlotte communities, “and that is where the gun violence happens. I am one of the most ardent supporters of doing something about the guns, but we also have to look at what’s happening in these communities.”
The discussion was a kickoff to the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation’s annual Premier Amateur Tennis Championship.
Dirt Bike Rider Killed in Crash Following Brief CMPD Pursuit
Michael Adams, a well-respected rider with the Charlotte Bike Life dirt-biking group, was killed on Sunday while allegedly evading police following a confrontation at a Bojangles’ on West Boulevard. Adams was not involved in the confrontation.
According to CMPD, Adams was part of a group of 12 to 15 people riding around the streets of Charlotte on ATVs and dirt bikes. Police responded to the Bojangles’ in response to an assault call, in which they say a man who was driving in a car but associated with the group assaulted a woman who was following and recording them as they rode. The woman had been involved in a hit-and-run with someone in the group, according to CMPD.
When officers arrived at the scene, the group dispersed. When a CMPD officer on one of the department’s dirt bikes gave chase, that’s when Adams ran off the road, hit a curb with the bike and then struck a concrete pillar, according to CMPD.
Police held a press conference about the incident on Monday. At the press conference, Sgt. Jesse Wood with CMPD’s Major Crash Unit, said that despite the department’s no-chase policy during such incidents, the officer continued to follow because the bikers were not moving at a high rate of speed.
Friends and family members of Adams will hold a school supply drive on Saturday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m. in his honor. It is the second annual school supply drive this group has hosted. Dirt bikers, a community of which has grown in recent years, have said that they are demonized by police and are not looking to start trouble but have nowhere else to practice their hobby. Many of those involved with Charlotte Bike Life are business owners and respected members of the community.
Riding dirt bikes on public streets can be legal in North Carolina, but riders must follow the same laws as motorcycles: the vehicles must be registered and tagged; must have turn signals, brake lights and rearview mirrors; and must be insured. ATVs are not allowed on public roads or highways.
Chavis Doby, 35, was arrested on Monday and charged with assault on a female in connection with Sunday’s incident.
Move Over Brain-Eating Amoebas, Toxic Algae Is In This Summer
Mecklenburg County officials posted signs at 14 county-owned parks with ponds on Friday after a pond at the palindromic Park Road Park was found to contain “toxic algae,” according to a press release.
Testing done by the county’s Storm Water Services department turned up positive results for “the toxic version of blue-green algae,” according to the release. The testing was recently ordered at 14 parks, almost certainly in response to news that three dogs died after swimming in a pond in Wilmington that had been contaminated with toxic algae.
The remaining 13 ponds will be tested over the next two weeks. In the meantime, county officials say that people should avoid all contact with the ponds and keep their pets away. Flowing creeks and streams are fine, according to the release.
Three homicides this week include domestic violence victim, unborn baby
Police are still searching for the suspect in Monday’s killing of 28-year-old Aiesha Summers and her unborn child in southwest Charlotte. Officers responded to an apartment on Perugia Way on Monday afternoon and found Summers dead of a gunshot wound. Further investigation found Edward Garner Sr. to be the main suspect in the murder. Witnesses said he fled the apartment in a white Mercedes with 1-year-old Aziyah Garner, his daughter that he shared with Summers; and Summers’ son, 3-year-old Dior Muhammad. Police also reported that Garner may have been with his son, 18-year-old Edward Garner Jr., though they did not know his involvement in the murder.
Police later found the two small children safe and unharmed, left with relatives in separate locations. On Tuesday, Edward Garner Jr. showed up at CMPD headquarters voluntarily after seeing himself mentioned in multiple news stories about the murder. He has not been charged in connection with the murder. Later on Tuesday, police signed a second murder warrant against Garner Sr. after the medical examiner’s office found that Summers had been 24-weeks pregnant when she was murdered. Garner Sr. is still wanted for the murders, and police ask that anyone with info about his whereabouts call 704-432-TIPS or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
In an unrelated case that occurred on Wednesday, 27-year-old Quandarro McCleary was shot and killed in front of an apartment complex on Calibre Crossing Drive on southeast Charlotte near McAlpine Creek Park. According to police, McCleary got into an argument with the suspect at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday and, after the fight escalated, the suspect shot him. McCleary remained at the scene while the suspect drove to another location on Margaret Wallace Road and called 911. He went with officers to be interviewed, and has not yet been charged with a crime. It is currently unclear if the shooting has been ruled as justified by detectives.