DA: CMPD Will No Longer Investigate Itself in Officer-Involved Shootings
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A major, unexpected, policy change announcement Friday. Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather dropped the bombshell via email: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will no longer investigate themselves in the cases of officer-involved shootings.
Merriweather wrote in part: “…every police department in Mecklenburg County, except Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, already turns over the investigation of officer-involved shootings to the SBI.” He continued: “…we must do what we can to ensure we avoid perceived conflict…”
The Chief of Police declined news interview requests about the announcement. Kerr Putney instead put out a less than two minute video message, saying in part: “This is a change that the District Attorney has determined is in the best interest of his constituents, and we’re gonna now shore up the protocol to support that decision.”
“We just hope that the SBI has the resources to come and do the investigations,” says Chris Kopp. He is the spokesperson for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police. He says the group has mixed emotions about the news. “We are a little skeptical on what the DA’s reasoning [is] behind this. We just wanna make sure that it doesn’t reflect [on] the men and women that are currently investigating these officer-involved shootings, because we feel that they do an outstanding job during these investigations,” says Kopp.
Meantime, an attorney for the Citizens Review Board, which investigates community complaints about the police, tells WCCB: “The chair of the board is pleased that Merriweather has taken this step. It provides for even more transparency and accountability than what the CRB proposed.”
The president of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP tells WCCB she is also pleased CMPD will no longer investigate itself. Corine Mack says, “I really believe the police cannot police themselves,” and, “Unfortunately in this country, we’ve given all law enforcement carte blanche,” as well as, “We need to find ways to build community trust. Right now, there is none. It’s been totally eroded.”
WCCB asked Merriweather for his response to the FOP’s concerns, but have not heard back yet. Meantime, the SBI says agency heads will meet next week with the DA to discuss operationally how this agreement will work.