Woman: Belmont Police Used Excessive Force
BELMONT, N.C. - 24-year-old Melissa Verner is recovering after being shot by a Belmont police officer on New Year's Eve. The department has said Verner was fighting with an officer when the weapon went off. She says that's not true. "They were cuffing me when the gun went off," she says.
She and another officer were hit by the shrapnel. Cops were at Verner's home in the gated Reflection Pointe community after a 911 call about possible shots fired. But there were no shots fired. Verner's boyfriend, Brandon Watts, had thrown a firecracker out his car window at another driver. He never imagined the police response. He says, "(It) totally shocked me. I had no idea this would ever escalate to what happened here that night."
Watts was driving Verner's car, so when police traced the tag, it gave them her address. As officers moved in, Verner's mom unknowingly opened the garage door to take some trash out. Andrea Verner says, "They (the police) said put your hands up, put your hands up!"
She did, just as her daughter came into the garage to see what was going on. The elder Verner says, "I heard one of the officers say, 'she's got something' and then I heard a gun shot fire." Verner, who had been sleeping off the flu, says she didn't have anything. In fact, she urinated herself out of fear. She wants an apology and answers from the department about what happened.
She says, "It's totally intrusive. I don't believe they had any right to come into my home with such force."
Verner says the officers didn't identify themselves or explain why they were there until after she was shot. She and her boyfriend face no charges. She's hired Charlotte attorney Adam Seifer. We called the Belmont Police Chief Tuesday for comment but haven't yet heard back. The SBI is investigating.