Charlotte police release body cam videos of viral arrest, 1 officer suspended for 40 hours
Body camera footage reveals a clearer picture of what happened during a controversial Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police arrest outside a Bojangles.
- The roughly 11 hours of video include the initial confrontation, street camera angles, witness testimony and officers taking the suspects into custody. CMPD edited clips from the main incident into a single 9-minute video, with a lieutenant describing their explanation of the events.
The latest: CMPD Internal Affairs has determined one officer used excessive force and will be suspended for 40 hours. Chief Johnny Jennings said this officer struck the woman in the video, Christina Pierre, 14 times after her hands were already behind her back.
- “If the officer made an assessment after three leg strikes, he would have seen that they were effective, and the female’s hands were behind her back,” the chief said.
- The actions of six other officers were deemed justified.
Catch up quick: On Nov. 13, multiple CMPD officers were seen on camera attempting to detain two suspects. Witness video went viral the following day. It showed one officer repeatedly hitting Pierre, 24, in the leg. CMPD said Pierre was resisting arrest, and the strikes were intentional and strategic to gain compliance.
- CMPD later acknowledged that an officer also hit Pierre in the face.
Details: In the breakdown of the videos, CMPD says officers pulled over to address the couple because they appeared to be smoking suspected marijuana at a CATS stop in Steele Creek.
“What did we do wrong?” Pierre is heard immediately asking. “It’s from the store. It’s THC-A,” says her 37-year-old fiancé, Anthony Lee.
- The officer points out the odor and attempts to detain Lee with handcuffs.
- “I have rights! I have rights!” Lee is heard saying. “You’re supposed to be a peacemaker.”“Stop fighting me,” the officer responds.
According to CMPD’s description of what happened next, “Both individuals resisted the officers and a struggle with officers ensued. The female subject struck an officer several times. In response to being struck multiple times by the female, the officer then struck her in the face in an attempt to prevent from being assaulted further.”
Zoom out: Charges against Lee and Pierre were dismissed by the district attorney as of Nov. 28.
- Lee was originally charged with carrying a concealed firearm, resisting arrest and simple possession of marijuana. Officers found a concealed, loaded 9-mm handgun in Lee’s bag.
- Pierre was facing assault on a government official, resisting arrest and simple possession of marijuana.
- CMPD said its lab tested the cigarette. Results determined it was “marijuana containing tetrahydrocannabinol.”
- Lee and Pierre’s attorney has stated it was THC-A, which is legal.
What they’re saying: “I was disappointed to learn that all charges were dropped against Ms. Pierre and Mr. Lee, specifically the Firearms charges and the Assault on a Government Official charges,” chief Jennings said in a statement.
- Charlotte City Council reviewed the video Monday night in closed session before it was released to the public.
What’s next: Starting this month, a “Community and Police Collaboration Group” will review CMPD policies, including how it responds to resistance. It will make recommendations to the department in June.
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations will organize the group of faith-based and community leaders.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information from CMPD’s internal investigation.
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