Protesters Again In The Streets Of Uptown Charlotte After CMPD Released In-Custody Footage Of Harold Easter’s Death

Protesters Again In The Streets Of Uptown Charlotte

Protesters again in the streets of Uptown Charlotte demanding change. This time after seeing video of what happened before the in-custody death of Harold Easter.

This time after seeing video of what happened before the in-custody death of Harold Easter.

“It’s heart breaking to actually see someone dying in that manner.”

Police arrested Easter on drug and trafficking charges on January 23rd, 2020.

During the arrest he ingested and swallowed cocaine.

Found in “Assisted With Arrest” video:

Officer: He got crack all over his tongue.

Officer: Yeah, he was trying to eat it.

Easter: Because I ain’t want him to get in trouble I was (inaudible)

Officer: Lips going numb ain’t they brother?

Found in “Interview Room” video:

The officers left Easter alone in an interview room for 20 minutes.

The video shows him on the table and then falling on the floor where he had a seizure and became unconscious.

About eight minutes later…

An officer opens the door, sees Easter on the floor and yells out to “get medic, get medic.”

Found in “Medic” video:

“He tried eating it when we walked up to the car, but we stopped him from eating it then. So, we didn’t think anything was wrong, he just came out here and we came in the interview room and he was seizing”

The 41-year-old never regained consciousness and died three days later in the hospital.

Chief Johnny Jennings says “I watched the video several times, arguably one of the most difficult videos that I’ve had to watch in my entire career.”

The sergeant and four officers involved in Easter’s death resigned after they were cited for termination.

The District Attorney decided not to charge them.

I asked Chief Jennings if he believes Harold Easter would be alive today if the officers followed policies.

Chief Jennings says “I believe that if they followed policy we would have at the minimum given Harold Easter a chance.”

Gemini Boyd says “The death of Mr. Easter was an avoidable death and we pray comfort for his family, including his children who will never see their father again.”

Longtime family friend Gemini Boyd joined community members today calling for change.

Boyd says “It’s time for law-enforcement and local officials to be directly responsible to the people they serve.”

Deborah Woolaed, United Neighbors of Charlotte, says “At the end of the day this family has to relive that and that’s hard. Becasue I had to watch that, that’s hard. I have a son, that’s hard to watch.”

 

 

CMPD Releases Videos Related To In-Custody Death Of Harold Easter

Warning: These videos contain content that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released a series of videos that capture the events related to the arrest and in-custody death of Harold Easter.  Four CMPD officers and a sergeant were cited for termination by CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings following an investigation.  However, all of the officers and the sergeant have since resigned from their positions.

Read below for more details.

Four CMPD Officers, Sergeant Who Were ‘Cited For Termination’ Will Not Be Criminally Charged In Connection To In-Custody Death Of Harold Easter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office says they will not file criminal charges against four Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers and a sergeant who were ‘cited for termination’ in connection to the in-custody death of Harold Easter.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings says Easter was arrested on drug and traffic charges, but was left alone for approximately 20 minutes inside an interview room when he suffered a medical emergency.  Jennings says that the officers had knowledge that Easter ingested and swallowed cocaine during the traffic stop.

A 35 page report released by the DA’s office says:

“There is certainly some evidence to suggest that officers knew or should have known that the decedent could have ingested contraband despite their contentions to the contrary.” 

The DA’s office consulted with multiple independent experts who were all unable to prove that the officers’ inaction led to Easter’s death:

“With these three experts proving unable to provide decisive evidence that the officers’ inaction led to Mr. Easter’s death, the State would face an insurmountable hurdle in establishing beyond a reasonable doubt a necessary element of involuntary manslaughter. Accordingly, it is the determination of this office that the available evidence is insufficient to proceed with criminal prosecution.

Read the full report HERE.

Chief Jennings has cited the four officers and sergeant for termination but that official decision will have to be made by the Civil Service Board.  Read below for full details on the case.

Four CMPD Officers, Sergeant Were ‘Cited For Termination’ In Connection To In-Custody Death Of Harold Easter

Chief Jennings says Easter was arrested on drug and traffic charges, but was left alone for approximately 20 minutes inside an interview room when he suffered a medical emergency.  Jennings says that the officers had knowledge that Easter ingested and swallowed cocaine during the traffic stop.

Easter was transported to a local hospital where he died three days later.

Gemini Boyd and Harold Easter were good friends, but Boyd says more like family. Boyd says it’s a step forward, but more needs to be done.

“What needs to happen is they need to be charged. It’s just that simple,” says Boyd.

Boyd says city leaders need to be held accountable.

“Chief Putney, Vi Lyles, Marcus Jones all of them need to be held accountable for this because they didn’t do anything when my family member was in there crying for his life. Beating on those doors, screaming for help.”

WCCB spoke to the attorney for the Easter family. He says they are pleased that CMPD is holding these officers accountable. That this is a step in the process. Tragically, they agree with Chief Jennings that if officers had more sanctity for the life of Mr. Easter, he would be here today.

CMPD changed their policy after Easter’s death. Officers are required to constantly monitor everyone in custody. Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP president Corine Mack says that’s not enough.

“We need to look at alternatives to policing. We need to remember that every person who make the decision to go on the force has a responsibility to the community that they serve,” says Mack.

Chief Jennings does not have the authority to fire an officer. The Civil Service Board will make the decision. There is video of the encounter. It is expected to be released October 1st.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles Holds News Conference After Four CMPD Officers, Sergeant Cited For Termination:

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles held a news conference after CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings announced four of their officers and a sergeant have been cited for termination in connection to the in-custody death of Harold Easter.  Watch the news conference below:

CMPD News Conference Announcing Four CMPD Officers, Sergeant Cited For Termination:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings says four CMPD officers and a sergeant have been cited for termination in connection to the in-custody death of Harold Easter.

CMPD News Conference (September 18, 2020)

WATCH LIVE: CMPD’s Chief of Police Johnny Jennings provides an update on the internal investigation following the in-custody death of Harold Easter

Posted by WCCB, Charlotte's CW on Friday, September 18, 2020

This is a developing story.  Check back for updates.

Toxicology Report Released For Harold Easter:

A toxicology report sent from the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office says Harold Easter had drugs, including cocaine and opioids, in his system.

Easter died while in the custody of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers.

The report says Easter had Benzoylecgonine, Cocaine metabolite, Levamisole, Lidocaine, and Opiates in his system when he died in police custody earlier this year.

Read below for more details.

Man Dies In CMPD Custody Following Arrest For Drugs, Traffic Violation:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —   An emotional plea from friends and family of a man who died in police custody. They’re calling for an outside agency to investigate Harold Easter’s death.

“His last words were probably somebody please help me. They allowed this to happen. So you take this back to your Chief, your Mayor and everybody else,” says Easter’s friend Gemini Boyd.

CMPD says the 41-year-old died in police custody on Sunday at a local hospital, after being arrested Thursday on drug and traffic charges. During that time, he suffered a medical emergency. Officers administered aid and called for Medic. But, Easter died three days later. No word yet on what caused his death.

“A great father, a great brother, a great son,” says Easter’s sister Andrell Mackey.

Five officers with CMPD are now on administrative leave:
-Sgt. Nicolas Vincent
-Ofc. Brentley Vinson
-Ofc. Michael Benfield
-Ofc. Michael Joseph
-Ofc. Shon Sheffield

CMPD says officers being placed on administrative leave is standard procedure for any in-custody death investigation. The officers involved in the incident are placed on administrative leave to ensure their actions were consistent with the CMPD’s policies and procedures.

The SBI has not been requested to investigate.

Sequence of events as released by CMPD:

Officer 1 attempts initial traffic stop of Easter’s vehicle

Officer 1 shuts off BWC

Officer 1 attempts traffic stop again and exits vehicle. Traffic stop occurred at
Whisnant Street and Burton Street

Officer 1 observes Easter eating cocaine
“Don’t eat it!”
“He’s eating it!”
“Hands up!”

Officer 2 arrives at the scene

Officer 2 walks over to Officer 1. Officer 1 tells him that he was crushing up the
crack when he was stopped

Officer 2 gets evidence envelopes out and begins assisting Officer 1 with the
collection of the evidence

Officer 1 places Easter under arrest

Harold Easter sequence of events

Officer 1 spontaneously utters “He was crushing up his crack but he didn’t eat it
all.”

Officer 1 turns custody of Easter over to Officer 3

Officer 1 begins the process of collecting and cataloging the drugs in the vehicle

(COLLECTED A TOTAL OF .3 G OF COCAINE FROM THE VEHICLE)

Officer 3 takes custody of Easter from Officer 1

Officer 3 searched Easter at the rear of the marked police vehicle

Officer 4 approaches Officer 1 and says “I mean, he ate whatever he had (referring
to Easter). Officer 1 says “no, he didn’t get all of it…when I was fighting him, he
was crushing part of it…we probably got an 8 ball right there (pointing to the
driver’s floorboard area).

Officer 4 walks away and goes over and searches one of the passengers in the
vehicle

Officer 4 has no other interaction with Easter

Officer 3 “You have crack all over your tongue.”

Harold Easter sequence of events

Officer 3 to Officer 5 “He has crack all over his tongue.” Officer 5 “Yeah, he was
trying to eat it.”

Officer 5 to Easter “Lips going numb, ain’t they brother?” and walks away

Officer 3 puts Officer 5 in the rear of the police vehicle

Officer 4 turns off his BWC

Officer 5 sits in the marked car in the passenger seat and is working on the
computer.

The following is conversation with Easter:
E: I’m dehydrated officer
O5: Bro, you’ve got cocaine on your tongue…it’s gonna happen when you
try to eat cocaine.
E: It is what it is
O5: I can’t give you anything to drink
E: Why, so I die of dehydration?
O5: You’re not gonna die of dehydration

Officer 5 calls in traffic stop over the radio at Whisnant Street and Burton Street

Four additional Metro Division officers arrive at the scene and provide scene
security. None of the officers have any contact or interaction with Mr. Easter

Harold Easter sequence of events

Officer 3 turns off his BWC

Officer 2 goes over to the marked police vehicle and has the following
conversation:
O2: You’re gonna stop yelling
E: Please don’t make me pee on myself
O2: That’s not my problem
E: Can I get some water, I’m dehydrated and I gotta pee
O2: Why would water help you with your pee situation?
E: I’m dehydrated cause…I ain’t gonna lie to you…I tried to swallow the
weed and a little bit of the rocks cause I was gonna smoke a fly and my
mouth is dry and I’m getting dehydrated Sarg.
O2: Ok, well, when we are through with this we will go take you to use the
restroom
E: Sarg can you let me piss right here?
O2: No, you cannot
E: In the woods?
O2: No
E: I’m gonna pee on myself
O2: Than we can get you in a jumpsuit

Officer 2 walks away from Easter

Officer 1 is driving. Officer 5 is in the front passenger seat. They leave the scene
and drive to the Metro Division Team office

Harold Easter sequence of events

Officer 2 turns off BWC

Officer 1 arrives at the Metro Division team office

Officer 1 is walking Easter into the team office. Easter says to Officer 1 “you know
cause I swallowed some you ain’t let me get water.”

Officer 1 clears the bathroom. Turns off BWC for strip search

Officer 5 turns off his BWC

At the conclusion of the strip search, Officer 1 turns on BWC and clears the
bathroom. Officer 1 shuts off BWC

Officer 5 walks Easter into interview room

Easter is shackled to the floor with leg shackles

Officer 5 tells Easter “in 5 minutes I’m gonna come back and get you.” Easter says
“are you sure?” Officer 5 says “yeah.”

Officer 5 leaves the interview room

Harold Easter sequence of events

Easter spontaneously shouts “everyone who with me knows we smoke
rocks…that’s what we do.”

Easter shouts “Can I please get some water Sarg?”

Easter asks ‘Sir Can I please get some water?”

Officer 4 opens the door and speaks with Easter. Conversation was indecipherable

Officer 4 returns and asks if Easter wants water or use the bathroom

Officer 4 returns with a cup of water and gives it to Easter

An Officer is walking by and opens the door. Easter says ‘Are you the Sarg?”
Where is the Sarg at?”

Easter begins knocking on the table. Says “Can I get some water? Please?”

Easter is standing up and begins to shake

Easter says “You think I’m gonna die. But I’m not. Ya’all gonna die. But I’m
not.”

Easter begins clawing at the table

Harold Easter sequence of events

Easter collapses face down on the table and is bent over at the waist

Easter falls off the table and has a seizure on the floor

Officer 2 opens the door, sees Easter on the floor and yells out to ‘Get MEDIC, Get
MEDIC”

Officer 1 turns on his BWC as he and Officer 2 run down the hall

Officer takes the leg shackle off

Easter is moved from the interview room to the hallway

Unknown Officer asks about an AED. Unknown Officer says, “yeah, it is not
working.”

Officer 1 begins CPR chest compressions

During this time, Officer 2 administers two doses of Narcan

CFD asks about circumstances and Officer 1 says “We stopped him for suspected
drugs and he tried eating it when we walked up to the car but we stopped him from
eating it. We didn’t think anything was wrong.”

Harold Easter sequence of events

Officer 1 turns off his BWC

Friday 1/24/2020

Email sent out to Media Release with initial background information

All 5 Officer’s placed on administrative leave with pay

Sunday 1/26/2020

Easter passes away at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center

Email sent out to Media Release advising Easter passed away