The Charlotte Observer - - NEWS -

sanc­tity of Mr. Easter’s life, we may not be look­ing at such a tragic out­come,” Jen­nings said two weeks ago.

The of­fi­cers and sergeant re­signed ahead of their hear­ings be­fore Char­lotte’s Civil Ser­vice Board, ac­cord­ing to the CMPD of­fi­cial. Jen­nings does not have uni­lat­eral au­thor­ity to fire of­fi­cers, but can sub­mit rec­om­men­da­tions for ter­mi­na­tion, de­mo­tion and pro­mo­tion to the board.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice source, all five CMPD of­fi­cers re­signed over the last week.

Their per­son­nel files will re­flect that they were rec­om­mended to be ter­mi­nated and that they re­signed be­fore a hear­ing was held, the of­fi­cial said.

The of­fi­cers did not take Easter to the hos­pi­tal or give him med­i­cal aid un­til he had what ap­peared to be a seizure and lost con­scious­ness in­side a po­lice in­ter­view room, ac­cord­ing to po­lice doc­u­ments and Alex Heroy, an at­tor­ney who is rep­re­sent­ing Easter’s fam­ily in a wrongful death law­suit.

A re­view of in­ter­nal po­lice doc­u­ments, re­leased Sept. 18 by CMPD, showed the of­fi­cers saw residue on Easter’s tongue and dis­cussed how much of the sub­stance he’d swal­lowed as he was be­ing ar­rested dur­ing a drug in­ves­ti­ga­tion just out­side up­town Char­lotte on Jan. 23. At a po­lice sub­sta­tion, Easter was strip-searched, shack­led to the floor and left unat­tended for at least 20 min­utes as he be­gan hav­ing life-threat­en­ing health is­sues.

Jen­nings, in an­nounc­ing he had rec­om­mended the of­fi­cers be fired, said the four of­fi­cers and sergeant had “in­ti­mate knowl­edge” that Easter had swal­lowed co­caine dur­ing the traf­fic stop that led to his ar­rest.

The Ob­server pre­vi­ously re­ported the of­fi­cers and sergeant did not fol­low a long-stand­ing CMPD pol­icy that states any­one sus­pected to have in­gested drugs must be eval­u­ated by Medic be­fore be­ing taken to jail.

Video footage of Easter’s ar­rest and med­i­cal emer­gency in the po­lice in­ter­view room is ex­pected to be re­leased Thursday.

District At­tor­ney Spencer Mer­ri­weather said last week the of­fi­cers will not be crim­i­nally charged for in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter.

Two weeks ago, Char­lotte Mayor Vi Lyles ex­pressed con­do­lences to the Easter fam­ily and praised Jen­nings’ ac­count­abil­ity.

When asked whether the of­fi­cers might re­sign prior to the hear­ings and find other jobs, Lyles said they must be held re­spon­si­ble.

“I did not sup­port the idea that you should be able to avoid the ac­tion or the con­se­quences of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and take re­tire­ment and move on. It’s just not that sim­ple any­more,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to CMPD, Of­fi­cers Sh­effield and Vin­cent both had prior sus­tained com­plaints. Sh­effield re­ceived a writ­ten rep­ri­mand in 2014, a one-day sus­pen­sion with­out pay in May 2015 and a one-week sus­pen­sion with­out pay in Novem­ber 2015. Vin­cent re­ceived a writ­ten rep­ri­mand in 2014. No de­tails of the cir­cum­stance sur­round­ing the com­plaints were pro­vided.

In the last three years, CMPD has re­ceived an av­er­age of 138 com­plaints an­nu­ally against of­fi­cers, of which 70% are sus­tained, mean­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion found there was suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to prove the al­le­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to CMPD’s In­ter­nal Af­fairs bureau.

Of­fi­cers of­ten re­sign ahead of ter­mi­na­tion hear­ings so they can still re­ceive their pen­sion or find another job ahead of be­ing fired, said Chris Her­rmann, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the John Jay Col­lege of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice in New York and a for­mer New York Po­lice Depart­ment crime an­a­lyst.

“There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween hav­ing charges put against you and then be­ing con­victed guilty of a crime,” he said.

This pat­tern has en­cour­aged some ac­tivists to ar­gue that there should be a fed­eral data­base of po­lice dis­ci­plinary records, he said.

It is un­clear whether the CMPD of­fi­cers who have re­signed are el­i­gi­ble for a pen­sion and whether they will be able to re­ceive it.

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