Body-Cam Video Shows Danquirs Franklin Was Not Pointing Gun At Officers When Shot

Apr 15, 2019
Originally published on April 16, 2019 8:05 am

Updated: 7:50 p.m.

Video of the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin on March 25 shows that he did have a gun, but it appears it was not pointed at officers or a person next to him.

The video, which is 2 minutes and 20 seconds long, is taken from the body camera of officer Wende Kerl, who fired the weapon that killed Franklin. CMPD says Kerl "perceived a lethal threat" when she shot him.

The video begins with Kerl in her police cruiser driving to the scene while dispatch is communicating with her. CMPD had received 911 calls of an armed man inside the Burger King off Beatties Ford Road, near Interstate 85. The audio from the video comes up after the first 30 seconds, when the dispatcher says the man — later identified as Franklin — had exited the restaurant and is by a maroon Honda Accord that's sitting in the parking lot outside the front door.

Kerl then arrives at the Burger King parking lot and exits her vehicle. Kerl crosses over to the passenger side of the Accord, in front of another officer, with her gun drawn. The other officer also has his gun drawn. They both repeatedly tell him to drop the gun.

The video shows the car with the passenger door open, and Franklin is squatting next to the inside portion of the door. There is another man sitting in the passenger seat, but his face has been blurred and he has not been identified by authorities. There was also a woman standing next to the car, behind Franklin on the other side of open door. Her face has also been blurred, and the officers instruct her to get out of the way.

Kerl and the other officer continue yelling at Franklin to drop his weapon. Altogether, they yell commands like "drop the gun" or "put it on the ground" at least 24 times. Franklin's left hand is between his legs, and you can't see his right hand from the video.

The video shows Franklin move his right hand with what appears to be a gun. He does not aim it at the officers. It appears the butt of the gun is facing the passenger, with the barrel pointed at Franklin. Kerl fires her weapon twice, striking him. He appears to yell, "you told me to" while officers continue to command him to put down the gun.

"Shots fired. Shots fired. I shot a fire," Kerl calls in.

She then moves toward Franklin's body, which falls to the ground. The camera then shows the man in the passenger seat, who identified himself as the "GM." Kerl and the other officer tell him to show his hands.

Kerl then leans over and picks up a black gun from the ground where Franklin is laying.

CMPD released body-cam footage today in response to a judge's order last Thursday.

The footage released was from Kerl's body-cam. WBTV petitioned for all existing footage from the incident. CMPD says the video released is "the only body-worn camera video relevant to the incident and as approved by the Superior Court judge."

Still many questions remain from the video. Kami Chavis, the director of the criminal justice program at the Wake Forrest University school of law, points out this is only one video. 

She says although it doesn’t appear that the police did anything wrong, it’s still unclear at the point of the shooting whether Franklin was trying to comply or not.

“What was he doing at the time? Was he trying to comply with the officer’s command to drop the gun? What else was he supposed to do at that point? Police are not supposed to be the jury, judge and executioner,” Chavis said.

Mayor Vi Lyles and Charlotte City Council members led a moment of silence at the start of their meeting Monday night for Franklin's family.

Lyles acknowledged concern about the footage, calling it "very difficult." She said the city has set up listening sessions this week to hear from the community.

Some council members are planning to leave the meeting to attend protests at Marshall Park across the street and other locations.

In Marshall Park, about 70 people gathered both in protest of the shooting and in memory of Franklin. Rev. Rodney Sadler, a pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, said police shootings are “becoming far too common.”

“It seems like far too many times we’re coming out to this park because we’ve lost another human life,” he said. “We were after we lost Jonathan Ferrell, we were here after we lost Keith Lamont Scott, and we’re here again today.

“It seems the time has come for us to change the way that we react to. It seem like now is the time for us to change the way that we treat black and brown people in the city of Charlotte, amen?”

Protesters in the crowd held signs reading “Stop the Police” and “Don’t Call The Cops on Black People.”

People also created a memorial to Franklin, writing his name in chalk on the ground outlined by a heart, flowers and candles.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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