The mother of an African American man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, last year has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit.
Deborah Franklin is suing the city government and officer Wende Kerl, who shot Danquirs Franklin on March 25, 2019. Deborah Franklin is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for her son’s loss of life and the loss of financial and emotional support for his three children.
The shooting caused several days of street protests in Charlotte after police body camera video was released.
The district attorney decided not to file charges last August, saying he didn’t think he could prove to a jury that “Officer Kerl’s belief that she faced an imminent threat of death of great bodily harm was unreasonable.”
CNN has reached out for comment from the city of Charlotte and the officer involved for comment.
Confrontation at restaurant
According to the lawsuit, Danquirs Franklin had gone to a Burger King restaurant with a handgun to confront the boyfriend of the mother of his children. Franklin and the woman were living apart, the suit says.
The lawsuit says store security video shows him going inside the restaurant’s kitchen and chasing the boyfriend, who ran outside to escape. Franklin ran outside, pointed the gun at the man but did not shoot, the suit says.
When Kerl and a second officer arrived, Franklin was distraught and kneeling in the parking lot next to the car of the store manager, Timothy Grier, the suit says. Grier was sitting in the car and consoling Franklin and praying with him through the car’s open passenger door, the suit says.
The mother of Franklin’s children and at least one other employee approached to watch the men pray, the suit says, and none of them felt threatened. The lawsuit says Franklin’s hands were still clasped while praying when the officers yelled at him to show his hands.
The lawsuit says Kerl and the other officer repeatedly and loudly ordered Franklin to “drop the weapon” - doing so more than 20 times in less than 30 seconds, according to the lawsuit.
Kerl’s body cam video shows Danquirs Franklin slowly bringing the gun out of his clothing, holding the top of the weapon by his thumb and forefinger, with the barrel pointed toward him and the handgrip coming into view first, the lawsuit says.
“As Franklin moved the gun away from him and from Kerl toward his right knee and then towards the ground, trying to put the gun down as ordered,” Kerl shot him twice, the lawsuit adds.
In April 2019, a lawyer representing Kerl, Jeremy Smith, said the officer opened fire because she wanted to protect the person who had been sitting inside the car when Franklin pulled “the gun out in the direction of the civilian.”
“The whole story cannot be told in either a two minute and 20 second video or the full 11 minute video,” Smith said.
The lawsuit says neither officer attempted to provide first aid to stop Franklin’s bleeding, focusing only on retrieving the gun, and Franklin lay unattended for at least eight minutes before any first aid was attempted by paramedics.
But the police department says the officers did check Franklin’s pulse at the scene and did not administer CPR because he was still breathing.
“The use of deadly force by Defendant Kerl was unreasonable and excessive under the circumstances … including her failure to follow settled principles for remaining safe in such a situation and then shooting Franklin because he was obeying her repeated commands to put down his pistol,” the suit says.
Last February, Charlotte’s Citizens Review Board voted 7-0 that it disagreed with the police chief’s decision not to discipline Kerl, WBTV reported.
CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this story.