Deputy U.S. marshal who killed Frankie Jennings will not be charged

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said that, based on the evidence he reviewed, the shooting was legally justified.

A deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service who shot and killed a man in east Charlotte will not face criminal charges, Mecklenburg District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced yesterday.

Merriweather laid out his reasoning in a 76-page document addressed to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings. CMPD had asked Merriweather’s office to investigate the shooting, which happened March 23.

In short, Merriweather concluded that the deputy marshal, Eric Tillman, acted lawfully when he fired three shots from his service weapon, killing Frankie Jennings while attempting to serve Jennings with an arrest warrant at a gas station in east Charlotte.

Jennings died on his 32nd birthday.

Among the key findings:

  • Tillman said he saw Jennings reaching for a gun in the cupholder of his car as officers attempted to pull him from the black Mercedes-Benz he was driving.
  • Tillman also stated that Jennings attempted to drive away and that he (Tillman) feared the car would strike a fellow officer who Tillman believed had fallen down.
Eric Tillman, a deputy with the U.S, Marshals Service, said he shot Frankie Jennings after he saw Jennings reaching from this gun as law enforcement officers attempted to arrest him. (Photo: Mecklenburg district attorney)

In concluding his report, Merriweather wrote:

“A police officer – or any other person – is justified in using deadly force if he in fact believed that he or another person was in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death from the actions of the person who was shot and if his belief was reasonable.

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“The statements of the Senior Inspector Tillman and the other task force officers who were present, the physical evidence, and surveillance videos corroborate the account of the events given by Senior Inspector Tillman,” the report stated.

Read the full report.

Glenn Burkins
Glenn is founder and publisher of Qcitymetro.com. He's worked at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and Charlotte Observer.

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