NAACP calls for probe of shootings
The group wants CMPD to make outside investigations a standard procedure when police use deadly force.
The state chapter of the NAACP is calling on Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to require outside investigations after a spate of shootings involving officers this year.
Last month, 21-year-old Aaron Winchester died from gunshot wounds to the back as he was being pursued by a police officer who had stopped him for questioning just north of uptown.
The Winchester shooting was the third time in seven months a suspect has died in a confrontation with CMPD. Of the 36 shootings by Charlotte police in the past decade, 31 were ruled justified in the department's investigations. The most recent five, all in 2008, remain under investigation by the department, which reviews its own deadly force cases.
“We are asking not only that they address the immediacy of the current incident but also this recent pattern of events,” said the Rev. William Barber II, state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The NAACP Wednesday called the state attorney general's office and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory to stress the importance of the Winchester shooting being investigated properly, Barber said.
The group is calling for broad policy changes – including asking CMPD to make it standard for an outside agency to investigate all police shootings, Barber said. The NAACP also wants CMPD to use an officer's history of use of force in promotion decisions and recommends the department keep detailed records of use of force by race and gender.
For the first time in more than 30 years as Charlotte-Mecklenburg district attorney, Peter Gilchrist asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look at the Winchester shooting. The incident involved a white police officer shooting a black man and raised questions among relatives and eyewitnesses in the Lockwood neighborhood.
Gilchrist declined to give his reason. The request came on the heels of a meeting with interim police Chief David Graham, officials said Wednesday.
The NAACP said it will begin working today with a coalition of Charlotte ministers to study the shootings.
The organization's statement followed a meeting Wednesday between Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton and members of the N.C. State Conference of National Action Network, an advocacy group formed by the Rev. Al Sharpton. He is expected to visit Charlotte in the next couple of weeks.
“This isn't about race,” said Tanya Wiley, executive director of the organization. “Anytime someone gets shot in the back, it sends up a red flag.”
After the incident, Charlotte City Councilman Anthony Foxx said he also asked the city manager if the Police Department would seek an outside investigation. He did so after receiving many calls from concerned residents.
“It is very important to and for the Police Department to be perceived as protecting our citizens and not crossing over the line,” Foxx said Wednesday. “There are some issues of trust here that we have to pay attention to.”