One witness clears officer?



The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer who shot a man in the back in May won’t be charged for the shooting, according to a report released by District Attorney Peter Gilchrist.

Creative Loafing put a call into the district attorney’s office on Monday to discuss the decision not to charge officer David Jester. I was told by the person answering the phone that Gilchrist would have to call me back at his convenience.

There was a firestorm -- though brief -- after the May 20th shooting.

Aaron Winchester was shot and killed by officer Jester following a foot chase. Jester was responding to a domestic call and saw Winchester, 21, walking down Sylvania Avenue. As Winchester ran from the officer, he reached into his pants pocket and removed a gun, police said. Jester fired four shots at Winchester, whom police said pointed the gun at the officer. Two shots hit Winchester in the back. Since the shooting, reports have surfaced of conflicting witness statements. Local media outlets have reported that some people on the scene claimed Winchester never pointed a gun at the officer.

Following the shooting of Winchester, the NAACP and the Rev. Al Sharpton held protests and a town meeting in Charlotte. The State Bureau of Investigation was also brought in to examine the shooting.

What Gilchrist told media outlets on Friday was an unnamed witness saw the entire incident and saw Winchester draw a gun.

“It came down to a man drawing a firearm on an officer in the process of doing an investigation," Gilchrist said, "and a police officer firing in self-defense."

But one statement from a witness negates several others who dispute that the event happened this way?

It should be noted that Winchester wasn’t from the community where he was killed. It make sense to think that the people -- mostly elderly -- who told police what they saw had no reason to lie.

This year has been violent for some dealing with CMPD, and the District Attorney’s office hasn’t brought any charges against any officer.

Here are a list of violent incidents police have been involved in.

• February 27: Police were serving a warrant with the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency at 9816 Langston Mill Road in north Charlotte. According to CMPD reports: "Gilberto Rivas, the brother of the primary suspect, fired at officers after they made entry in the house. One officer sustained minor injuries. An officer returned fire, striking Mr. Rivas. He was transported to Carolinas Medical Center where he is being treated for critical injuries."

• March 2: Police responded to a burglary call at the Dollar Tree on South Boulevard. According to police reports: "Officer Matthew Relic, as the first officer on the scene, confronted Dinkins [the suspect] in the parking lot of the business. Dinkins began fighting with the officer, refused to comply with any verbal commands and pulled a handgun from his pocket. Officer Relic then drew and fired his service weapon, striking Dinkins, who was transported to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment."

• April 21: Police were called to a residence on Statesville Road to investigate a suspicious vehicle in the driveway. According to police reports, the driver of the car, Jason Chappell, was armed with a knife, and when officers Rodney Jackson and Lucas Rahal approached him, he attempted to drive away. Jackson was on the passenger side of the vehicle and Rahal went around to the driver's side. Jackson opened the passenger door to retrieve the closed, folded knife Chappell placed on the seat when officers told him to do so. When Jackson was leaning in to retrieve the knife, Chappell started the vehicle, put the car in reverse and immediately accelerated. Jackson was trapped in between the door and the vehicle while the vehicle was in motion. Chappell failed to obey officer's commands to stop and Jackson fired his service weapon once, striking Chappell.

• May 6: Police were called in to back up a Mecklenburg County ABC officer, Frank Lopez, who witnessed a man, Guy Manuel Cabral, drinking beer in a car in the parking lot of the Sam's Mart Shell station at 1920 Central Ave., according to police reports. CMPD officer Jenny Curlee arrived at 6:29 p.m. to assist Officer Lopez and positioned herself on the driver's side of the vehicle. Both officers gave verbal commands for Brian Jarod Howie to remove the keys from the ignition. Howie refused to comply with the verbal commands from either officer. Officer Lopez pulled his Taser and continued to request the driver to remove the keys from the ignition and to follow his directions. Curlee pulled her service pistol when Howie reached to his right side near the console area. Curlee fired her service pistol while Lopez fired his Taser at Howie who sustained a single gunshot wound to the arm and chest.

(Update: On July 16, CMPD released an update into the investigation of Officer Curlee: “After a thorough review of the evidence, the [Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Chain of Command Review]Board determined that the shooting was not justified. On July 14, 2008, Officer J.S. Curlee's employment with the Charlotte – Mecklenburg Police Department was terminated,” the police statement reads.

While North Carolina law prohibits the release of the results of the internal review, Police Chief Rodney Monroe is releasing the following information from the Criminal Investigations file. Chief Monroe will continue to release as much information as possible about cases of public interest so long as it does not interfere with an on-going investigation or violate the law.)

• March 22: Police responded to a call for service at the Food Lion at 3024 Prosperity Church Road regarding a disturbance. Police reports say when Officer Jerry Dawson arrived, he witnessed Darryl Wayne Turner assaulting the store manager by throwing an object at him. "Mr. Turner appeared to be in a highly agitated state. He refused all verbal commands and advanced towards the officer. The officer, Jerry Dawson Jr., deployed his Taser to get Mr. Turner under control," the report states. Turner was pronounced dead at Carolina's Medical Center-University and an autopsy later revealed that Turner died from a heart attack. Dawson was not charged by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office in Turner's death.

(Update: Police also released an update into the investigation of officer Dawson: “After a thorough review of the evidence, the Board determined that the initial decision to discharge the TASER was within our procedures, but the prolonged use of the TASER was not. Officer Dawson has been suspended for five days and he will receive additional training concerning the use of the TASER. The Department is currently reviewing its policies and procedures concerning the TASER,” the statement reads. )

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