Spencer Merriweather (Photo: Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office)
Spencer Merriweather (Photo: Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office)

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Going forward, an independent state agency will investigate all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department shootings that result in death or serious injury.

That means CMPD no longer will be lead investigator when one of its officers shoots a suspect.

In announcing the decision, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said on Friday that his office will now routinely request that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) step in to investigate officer-involved shootings in Charlotte.

The move comes a week after Merriweather announced that his office would not prosecute a CMPD officer who shot and killed 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin outside a Burger King restaurant in March. That decision was based, in part, on a CMPD-led investigation.

A matter of public trust: Merriweather said the move is meant to shore up public confidence and does not signal any dissatisfaction with the way CMPD has led investigations that have involved its own officers.

“…we must do what we can to ensure we avoid perceived conflict in these investigations whenever possible,” he said in a statement. “The criminal justice system cannot – and should not – function without public confidence.”

According to The Charlotte Observer, CMPD is the only police department in Mecklenburg County that still leads a criminal investigation when one of its own officers has shot or killed a suspect.

In a video posted to Twitter, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said his office supports Merriweather’s decision. Putney said he “continues to have confidence” in the work his department has done to investigate officer-involved shootings.

The timeline: Merriweather said the shift will happen once all sides establish a protocol that allows CMPD to secure a shooting scene and then relinquish authority once SBI investigators arrive.

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Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.