New Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney is working to repair a rift with officers angry over how the department handled Randall “Wes” Kerrick, the white officer accused of killing an unarmed black man, reports the Charlotte Observer. Putney has spoken with officers since a judge declared a mistrial. The jury deadlocked 8-4, favoring acquittal of the officer on a voluntary manslaughter charge. A Fraternal Order of Police leader, Kerrick's attorney, a City Council member and others told the Observer that Putney is aiming to restore fractured relations between officers and commanders. Some officials believe a majority of officers disagree with top administrators about the shooting and believe Kerrick took reasonable action to protect himself. Those officers accuse then-Chief Rodney Monroe and his staff of a rush to judgment on Kerrick and misleading them about his quick arrest.
Investigations into officer-involved shootings and other use of force can take weeks or months. But Charlotte police arrested Kerrick less than a day after he shot Jonathan Ferrell in 2013. Complaints emerged when a dashcam video became public during the trial and produced divided opinions on whether the shooting was justified. Officers had been assured the footage would provide clear and convincing evidence Kerrick committed a crime, said Randy Hagler, president of the North Carolina chapter of the FOP. “Once you saw the evidence, you knew they (top police officials) were not truthful,” said Hagler, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer who now heads law enforcement for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.