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5 Things To Know: Woman in Stable Condition After Police Shooting

…and four more stories from Sept. 19-25, 2021

scene of the police shooting
The parking lot where a police shooting occurred Thursday. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings says one of his officers shot a woman who had shot at a store owner before allegedly trying to run over the officer. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Officer Shoots Woman Who Allegedly Shot at Store Owner

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings says an incident in which a police officer shot a woman as she fled the scene of a separate shooting in her car on Thursday afternoon was caught on surveillance video, and he believes the officer was justified in using force.

During a press briefing at the scene of the police shooting on Thursday, Jennings alleged the woman, identified later as 23-year-old Raynique Austin, shot at the owner of an EC Beauty Supply store on Tyvola Road near South Boulevard, then tried to run over the first police officer to arrive at the scene. That officer, identified later as Dustin Smith, shot his gun into Austin’s car, which she then drove away in. Following a brief pursuit, Austin was apprehended in a nearby apartment complex parking lot, where it was found that she had been shot multiple times. 

“This is one of those situations where we never want it to end this way, but we do have video evidence that supports all accounts I just told you,” Jennings said Thursday. “I was able to review that video, and unfortunately the officer was left with no choice other than to use deadly force.”  

In response to an inquiry from Queen City Nerve, a police representative said CMPD had no plans to release any related footage to the public while the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations investigates the incident, as is protocol for any police shooting involving a CMPD officer. 

On Friday, CMPD stated that Austin was at that point in stable condition, and upon her release from the hospital she will be charged with attempted murder, five counts of hit and run, fleeing to elude arrest, and damage to property.

Smith, hired at the department on July 23, 2018, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation — standard policy whenever there is a police shooting or an officer discharges their weapon.

Lowe’s Donates $1 Million To Roof Above Hotel Housing Transition

On Thursday, Roof Above announced a $1 million donation from Lowe’s to go toward the organization’s previously announced plan to convert a hotel on Clanton Road into permanent supportive housing for folks experiencing homelessness.

First announced in December, Roof Above closed a deal to buy a hotel at the intersection of Clanton Road and Interstate 77. The 88-unit hotel served an immediate need last winter as an emergency shelter for women and families through a partnership with Salvation Army Center of Hope, and renovations are now under way to transform the hotel into permanent supportive housing for individuals who are chronically homeless.

A hotel that will be turned into housing for the homeless.
Roof Above is transitioning an old hotel on Clanton Road into housing for people suffering with chronic homelessness. (Photo courtesy of Roof Above)

Total project cost is estimated to be $12 million, including purchase price, renovation of the existing building and construction of a support service wing addition.

Each existing hotel room will be renovated into a studio apartment with a kitchen. In addition to Lowe’s $1 million philanthropic contribution to the project, the company also provided the new appliances for each unit at a discounted rate. The support services wing addition will provide space for robust services including case management and health-care support. Tenants will pay a third of their income toward rent.

Currently, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has a gap of 23,060 affordable rental units for households with incomes at or below 30% of area medium income, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness Dashboard. Additionally, as of June 30, there were more than 3,135 individuals experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, more than 515 of whom are experiencing chronic homelessness.

City Releases Proposed Redistricting Maps

The City of Charlotte’s Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday released its three proposed redistricting maps as part of the city’s 2021 redistricting efforts. For context, local data analyst Jarrett Hurms put together this Twitter thread showing what neighborhoods could potentially switch city council districts based on the map drafts, though he emphasized that he did so in his own free time and not in any official capacity for the city. 

The Redistricting Committee, consisting of council members Graham, Dimple Ajmera, Greg Phipps and Ed Driggs, was charged with developing redistricting recommendations guided by seven principles, three of which were to be prioritized as “first-order principles”: 

  • Districts must have substantially equal population – one person/one vote rule. (required)
  • Districts should be reasonably compact. (strongly recommended)
  • District boundaries may follow neighborhood boundaries or the boundaries of areas containing residents sharing similar interests.

The four “second-order principles” were listed as follows: 

  • District boundaries may follow precinct boundaries.
  • District boundaries may be drawn considering the race of district residents as long as race is not the predominant motivating factor.
  • Districts most likely to be impacted by future annexations (or growth rates) may be smaller to minimize impact of future annexations on future redistricting.
  • District boundaries may be drawn to avoid contests between incumbents.

A virtual listening session with redistricting committee members and staff is planned for Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. Attendees who would like to speak need to complete the listening session registration form. The session will also be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. A public hearing will be held during the Charlotte City Council meeting on Oct. 18. Speakers must complete the speaker registration form to sign up.

County Prepared to Administer Booster Shots by Monday

Following a recommendation from both the CDC and FDA that people 65 years old and older who received Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines be administered booster shots to strengthen their immunity, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris released a statement Friday stating the county is “prepared to provide third doses of the Pfizer vaccine to eligible individuals on Monday, September 27 at all public health vaccine sites.”

Harris said her department is awaiting additional clinical guidance from the CDC, as its recommendations regarding frontline workers conflicted with the FDA, and for specific guidance from NC Department of Health and Human Services regarding who will be eligible for a third dose of Pfizer come Monday. 

COVID-19 test-positivity graph for Mecklenburg County
A look at test-positivity rates in Mecklenburg County. (Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to the most recent data released Friday morning, 659,318 Mecklenburg County residents, or about 59% of the population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 55% have been fully vaccinated.

According to that same data release, there were 3,760 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed among Mecklenburg County residents over the past week, and 27 deaths resulting from the coronavirus. According to more in-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday, there had been an average of 473 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day over the past week, a decreasing trend compared to previous weeks. On average, 388 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on any given day, and there was a 10.1% test-positivity rate among county residents, both decreasing trends.

Body Found in Southeast Charlotte Pond

It’s unclear what caused the death of a person found floating in a pond in southeast Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon. Officers responded to a call on Village Lake Drive just before 2 p.m. Tuesday and found the body then. As is standard procedure for any sudden or unexpected death, the CMPD’s Homicide Unit detectives responded to the scene to conduct an investigation, while Crime Scene Search responded to process the scene and collect physical evidence. It’s unclear at this time whether the case will be ruled a homicide. 

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