Newly Released Police Body Cam Video Shows Moments Leading Up To Deadly Shooting
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Newly released police body cam video shows what happened when Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers tried to take a woman who didn’t want to leave her room to a mental health facility. On August 19, 2022, three Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers arrived at the south Charlotte home of Brenda Donahue. They casually chatted about bugs as they walked up to the front door, talking about how mosquitoes where “everywhere.”
The officers were there to take 60-year-old Donahue to the hospital on involuntary commitment orders. A man who answered the door said Donahue was inside, and didn’t want to see the officers. The officers went inside, and up the stairs to get her. One officer is heard on the body cam video saying, “It’s the police ma’am, can you open up the door?” Donahue instead fired shots through the bedroom door, hitting Officer Lauren Ehlke directly in her body camera. The officer wasn’t hurt. As police retreated, Officer Brandon Graham says Donahue leaned over the staircase and pointed her gun at him. Graham fired twice, hitting Donahue in the head. He says on the body cam video, “She pointed the gun right down, over the awning, right at me.” Officers then started CPR on Donahue until MEDIC arrived. She later died at the hospital.
CMPD also released photos from the scene, which they say shows the bullet holes in the bedroom door, a bullet lodged inside Officer Ehlke’s body camera, and the gun Donahue used.
CMPD has not given news reporters the chance to ask them questions about the body cam video. Instead, they sent us a pre-recorded statement and their own analysis of the shooting, provided by one of the department’s firearms instructors. Sgt. Steven Winterhalter says, “The officers showed a great amount of restraint in not just blindly returning fire into the closed doorway and into the bedroom. This is consistent with the training they received at CMPD.”
CMPD released this video after a news media outlet requested it, otherwise it would have not been made public. CMPD says the shooting was justified. The investigation continues, and the district attorney will make that final decision.