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Police chief says bodycam will tell more of the story after bystander’s video accuses officer of excessive force

Screenshot from the video below

Ryan Oehrli
The Charlotte Observer

A video circulating online shows multiple Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers surrounding a woman lying on the ground, with one officer repeatedly striking her.

The incident happened Monday outside a Bojangles near South Tryon Street and West Arrowood Road, according to CMPD spokesperson Mike Allinger and a statement from the department. Two people were smoking marijuana in public there and a woman “punched an officer in the face,” CMPD said in its statement.

Police said a man who was there had a firearm and that both people “refused arrest.”

The video starts after the woman is already on the ground with officers surrounding her. It shows a number of nearby people shouting for police to stop as one officer repeatedly hits the woman with his fist.

“You’re gonna kill her right on the ground,” one bystander says.

In the department’s description of events, an officer “threw multiple strikes” to the woman’s thigh and told her to “stop resisting.”

“After several repeated verbal commands, an officer struck the female subject seven times with knee strikes and 10 closed fist strikes to the peroneal nerve in the thigh to try to gain compliance,” CMPD said. “The officer was intentional about where the strikes were made.”

CMPD’s Internal Affairs division is investigating.

“These are tense situations that have the potential to escalate quickly,” CMPD said. “Police use of force is never easy to watch. Officers are trained to strike large muscle groups in order to gain compliance during an arrest.”

The woman and man involved are employees at the nearby Bojangles, company Vice President of Communications Stacey McCray said in an email. They had recently clocked out and were off the property, McCray added.

“Like many other Charlotteans, we were shocked and saddened by the video of an incident between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and a Bojangles employee,” she wrote. “While we wait to learn more of the details of what led to the incident, we plan to cooperate fully with any investigation.”

Police chief wants body cam video released

In his own statement, Police Chief Johnny Jennings said the video was “not easy to watch.”

His officers are “often placed in difficult situations,” he added.

Along with the circulating video, Jennings watched body camera footage that “tells more of the story than what is circulating on social media,” he said.

He has asked the department’s attorney to file a petition so that the footage can be released. In North Carolina, that requires a court order.

“This process will take time, but CMPD will update as soon as the court allows,” the chief said.

CMPD communications staff said they were unable to release names of the two people involved in the Monday incident and instead referred the Observer to its public records department.

©2023 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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