Charlotte braces for protests after judge orders release of police shooting video

Charlotte, North Carolina, is preparing for protests ahead of the Monday release of video showing a police officer fatally shooting Danquirs Franklin in a fast food restaurant’s parking lot.

The video is scheduled to be released at 2 p.m., per a judge’s ruling last week. The shooting sparked demonstrations last month, and CNN affiliate WBTV reported that students at a local school walked out of class to protest the killing.

It’s unclear what the bodycam video will show, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney said it will demonstrate that Franklin was armed.

“It’s like a punch to the gut. It’s hard to watch because a life’s been lost,” he said.

Putney originally told reporters that one of his officers, Wende Kerl, shot Franklin at a Charlotte-area Burger King after the 27-year-old refused to drop his weapon. Witnesses and friends have told local media that the police statement doesn’t add up and offered competing narratives, including that Franklin was trying to defuse the situation when he was shot.

“We’re preparing for the worst, but praying for the best,” Putney told reporters Monday. “We expect it to be peaceful, but if it’s otherwise we’ve got to be prepared for that as well.”

Mayor Vi Lyles said she has not seen the video, but she made an appeal for peaceful protests.

“I call on all of Charlotte to come together respectfully,” she said.

Officials say they’re aware of protests that were already slated for this week, and the city has scheduled listening sessions Tuesday and Wednesday with residents.

‘He’s pointing it at employees’

Franklin was killed the morning of March 25. Employees reported that a man came into the Burger King acting suspiciously and making employees feel uneasy, Putney said at the time.

At least one 911 caller reported an armed man, telling the dispatcher, “He got a gun. He has a gun. He’s pointing it at employees.” The caller said the man initially walked behind the counter and tried to fight a Burger King employee. Later in the call, she is heard urging someone to lock the doors.

Another caller said she was in the drive-thru when she saw a man reach into his waistband, spurring employees to run. She drove off before she could determine if he had a gun, she said.

Officers arrived minutes later and engaged a man in the parking lot. After he refused to heed multiple commands to drop his weapon, Kerl, a 24-year veteran who works in the police department’s metro division, opened fire, police said.

“One of the first arriving officers perceived a lethal threat, fired at least one round, striking the subject,” the chief said.

The man, later identified as Franklin, was transported to Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. A gun was recovered at the scene, Putney said. Kerl was placed on paid administrative leave.

“We’re trying to piece this all together. It’s very early on in the investigation,” Putney said at the time.

‘I proved everybody wrong’

The case will be turned over to the prosecutor’s office in a week or so, the chief said Monday. The department’s internal affairs bureau is conducting a parallel investigation.

In 2010, The Charlotte Observer profiled Franklin in his quest to earn his diploma from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, and the following year, reported on the young man preparing to enroll at the Art Institute of Charlotte, where he planned to study media arts and interactive media in hopes of pursuing a career in film and music.

Franklin was born to a drug addict and had cocaine in his system at birth, the paper reported. He grew up with no father but enjoyed the love and support of his grandmother, who died in 2008, the paper said. His mother, who kicked her cocaine habit in 2007, gushed with pride, as did a social worker and one of his teachers, The Observer reported.

“I’m done. I finished high school,” Franklin told the paper. “I proved everybody wrong who said I wasn’t going to make it.”

It’s not known if Franklin attended the Art Institute of Charlotte.