A North Carolina police officer who fatally shot a black man in a parking lot after repeatedly ordering him to drop his gun said multiple times that she had no choice, according to a bodycam video released Wednesday.
An 11-minute bodycam video was released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police after local media outlets went to a judge on Tuesday to get the police department to release the entire recording of the encounter. A 3-minute version of the shooting was released on April 15.
Both versions show the shooting of 27-year-old Danquirs Napoleon Franklin outside a Burger King on March 25. At about the 2-minute mark of the extended video, Officer Wende Kerl shoots Franklin, who was crouched next to the car on the passenger side. Right before Kerl fires, Franklin can be seen raising his right hand with an object in it, still facing the person in the passenger seat.
Civil rights activists in North Carolina have urged nonviolent response in the aftermath of Franklin’s death, pointing out that Franklin never aimed his weapon at authorities.
“Deep anger, hurt and, quite frankly, mistrust,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP president Corine Mack told WBTV. “There was no threat to her life.”
The extended video shows the aftermath of the shooting. Someone can be heard moaning, presumably Franklin. Kerl said she had to pick up the gun, and a man inside the car said, “This Is crazy, man.”
“He pulled a gun,” Kerl said. An officer off camera responded, “Yes, he did. I know, Wende.” An officer asks if Kerl is OK and she responds that she is.
About 6 minutes into the video, emergency workers arrived to treat Franklin. None of the officers appeared to give aid to Franklin. The Charlotte Observer reported that City Councilman Braxton Winston complained that officers didn’t provide aid right away. In a television interview, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said officers could have given aid more quickly.
Just over 6 minutes into the video, another officer tells Kerl to go sit inside her patrol car.
“I didn’t have a choice,” she said, to which the officer replies, “You’re alright, you’re alright.”
At this point, the video shows Kerl’s perspective from behind the steering wheel of her patrol cruiser. She states again that she had no choice but to shoot Franklin.
“I had to. He wouldn’t drop the gun and he brought it out of his jacket,” she said. An officer out of view tries to comfort her.
“It’s alright. You’re alright. Look here. You’re sitting here talking, right? Got kids at home, right? You’re gonna see them this evening, right? That’s all that matters,” the officer said.
Kerl asks an officer close by if Franklin is alive, and the officer says he doesn’t know. Then, Kerl yells to a second officer and repeats the question.
“No, no,” the second officer responds. Kerl then tries to call her husband but gets no answer. Another officer then asks Kerl is she is OK and she again repeats her account of the shooting.
“He had a gun. He wouldn’t drop it,” she said. “And then he reached in his thing, pulled the gun out. We didn’t know. We thought it was in the hand and I shot him.”
A sergeant then arrives at her car and she tells him she shot Franklin. The sergeant tells Kerl to turn off her video and the recording ends.
Kerl has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated by detectives. A department spokesman has declined to release Kerl’s race.
On Wednesday, CMPD said the department’s homicide unit turned over all of the evidence to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office for their review.