CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released the full-length body camera video of the moments before, during, and after the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin on March 25.
When CMPD initially released the body-cam video, the public was only able to view two minutes and 20 seconds of an 11-minute video.
WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner filed a motion that prompted a judge to order CMPD to appear in court and explain why the full body camera video was neither provided to a judge to review or released publicly.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the full body-cam video of the fatal police shooting of Danquirs Franklin on after judge’s order Tuesday.
On Tuesday, CMPD was ordered to release the full body camera video of the shooting during a hearing that was to decide whether the department violated an order by not releasing the entire video of the shooting at a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road. The judge ultimately ruled CMPD was not in contempt by showing the full video to City Council before it was released to the public.
Three hours after the full video was released, the attorney for the CMPD officer who fired the shots, Wende Kerl, released a statement.
"Officer Wende Kerl is not going to comment while the investigation is still pending. However, as her attorney, I stated in both court hearings about the Body Worn Camera video release that we were in favor of full disclosure of the video once the investigation was complete. Furthermore, in the hearing yesterday, April 24, 2019, I requested the full video be released immediately. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department was the only party advocating for anything less than full disclosure.
"We have avoided making any public comment to this point because we did not intend on trying this case in the media. Now, we feel obligated to do so because of certain statements that have been made both in court and in the press.
"The whole story cannot be told in either a 2 minute and 20 second video or the full 11-minute video. Mr. Franklin went to the Burger King that day with a firearm and the intention of threatening and assaulting a former domestic partner. After committing multiple acts of domestic violence inside the restaurant and pointing that firearm at multiple people, he left and went outside.
"What has never been mentioned is that there was an innocent civilian talking to Mr. Franklin no more than a few feet away when, after being told more than twenty times to either “show us your hands” or “drop the gun” he pulls the gun out in the direction of the civilian. It is all this information that Officer Kerl had to analyze in a split second and then decide to protect the life of that civilian, the greater Charlotte public in the area, her partner Officer Larry Deal, and lastly herself.
“We look forward to the completion of the investigation by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office and their ultimate decision.”
Hours before the video release Wednesday, CMPD said their investigation into the officer-involved shooting of Franklin has been completed and the case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office confirmed they received the case file Wednesday afternoon.
OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING AT BEATTIES FORD BURGER KING
Franklin was shot by veteran CMPD officer Wende Kerl, who has been a part of the department since 1995, around 9 a.m. on March 25 in the parking lot of the Burger King on Beatties Ford Road.
In the body-cam video, officers Kerl and Larry Deal drew their guns immediately upon getting out of their vehicles. Between the two officers, Franklin was instructed to either “drop the weapon” or “put the gun on the ground” 23 times.
Hours before the release of the 2-minute video, city leaders united outside the Government Center in uptown Charlotte to call for a calm and measured community reaction.
“We owe it to the community for them to see what has been recorded,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. “We will all work together - protest is important - people have the right to do that.”
Lyles, visibly emotional as she called for calm across the city, urged a response that is respectful after the release of the video.
In the days after the initial video release, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said she and members of the Charlotte City Council made the decision to view the full video from the shooting upon the advice of the city attorney before the video was made public.
WBTV asked Lyles about the decision to view the full video ahead of Monday’s City Council work session after she and city staff refused to speak on camera or answer specific questions from reporters for days.
“That was a council decision that the city attorney advised us on,” Lyles said. In response to a follow-up question from WBTV, Lyles couldn’t say whether CMPD Chief Kerr Putney had any knowledge of the council reviewing the video.
State law places him in charge of releasing or not releasing the video.
“At this time, I’m not aware of that answer because everything is going so quickly and so fast,” the Mayor said when asked about whether Putney has any knowledge of the council watching the video.
“I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ANYTHING LIKE THIS IN MY LIFE”
Police also released two 911 calls, shortly after the incident, made from witnesses at the Burger King describing an armed man in the restaurant.
In the first call, a woman describes an African-American man inside the restaurant headed towards the counter to “fight an employee.” Halfway through the call, the woman starts repeating the same phrase - “he got a gun.”
The caller said the man was fighting an employee before waiting outside and standing by the menu board.
Police say they engaged the man described in the 911 calls in the parking lot and “repeatedly ordered him to drop his gun” when they arrived on scene.
“I have never experienced anything like this in my life,” a woman told a 911 operator in the second emergency call released to WBTV.
The woman told police the man reached into his pants, possibly going for a weapon, as he approached her car. The caller told the dispatcher she drove away from the restaurant and believed the man went back inside the store.
The woman told the 911 dispatcher she saw people around the Burger King drive off at that point and employees of the store running.
“HE WAS PRETTY MUCH A LOVING CARING PERSON”
In the days following the shooting, dozens of people gathered at the shooting scene and called for the body-cam video to be released by police.
“He was pretty much a loving, caring person," said Vanessa Cloud, one of Franklin’s former high school classmates.
"He loved basketball, he loves his kids, his friends and family so that’s definitely not the person that I know,” Cloud told WBTV’s Bria Bell.