A Charlotte man was fatally shot in front of his apartment building by a police officer Friday afternoon after a 911 call for help alerted first responders that the man was threatening to kill himself.
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The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Officer Daniel Flynn shot 27-year-old Charlie Shoupe after Shoupe charged at Flynn with a knife. Shoupe was pronounced dead at Carolinas Medical Center.
CMPD said first responders on the scene told police officers before they arrived that Shoupe had said he wanted police to kill him.
The shooting took place about 20 seconds after the CMPD officer arrived in a marked police car, according a video filmed by Trey Massey, a bystander who broadcast the footage live on Facebook. Previously, fire and emergency medical personnel had been standing with and attempting to talk with Shoupe in the parking lot of the apartment complex where he lived.
Massey’s video shows fire personnel following slowly behind Shoupe as he walked around, holding a knife, for about three minutes.
Massey said he was standing outside the apartment building when he saw a white man, later identified as Shoupe, “come outside screaming ‘shoot me.’ ” He began recording the scene.
Shoupe appeared to be using a knife to harm himself and he was threatening fire department officials who were responding to the mother’s 911 call, Massey said.
When a CMPD officer arrived, Shoupe and the fire personnel appear to walk toward the direction of the patrol car. Police say Flynn gave verbal commands for Shoupe to drop his knife and that Flynn “retreated multiple times to try to put distance between him and Mr. Shoupe.”
“Mr. Shoupe refused to comply and instead continued to charge at Officer Flynn, closing the distance between the two of them. Officer Flynn then fired his service weapon, striking Mr. Shoupe,” CMPD said in a news statement.
The shooting is not visible in the video footage filmed by Massey, who said he did not hear police say anything to Shoupe before shooting. Flynn is not heard on the video speaking to Shoupe.
Nine gun shots can be heard on Massey’s video. CMPD did not say how many times Shoupe was hit by a bullet.
Other officers arrived seconds after Shoupe fell to the ground.
The shooting was an end to what had been a precarious exchange between first responders who came to Shoupe’s aid minutes earlier.
The Charlotte Fire Department and Mecklenburg County MEDIC were first to respond to the 911 call on Friday. A MEDIC spokesman told the Observer that emergency workers received a 911 call at 1:06 p.m. from a caller who said a man was trying to kill himself.
The ambulance crew arrived at 1:12 p.m. Fire department officials also responded.
Massey’s video began around the time MEDIC arrived.
In the video, first responders appear to attempt to get the man to put the knife down. At one point, one of those officials urged the person filming the encounter to turn his camera off out of fear it could escalate the situation.
“I understand you have the right to film, but it’s not always a good idea, just because you have the right to,” the official said on Massey’s video. “And it might agitate him and make him worse, and that’s also not good for anybody, okay?”
The firefighters and MEDIC crews had asked police to “step up their response” because Shoupe held a knife, according to the CMPD statement.
Massey said he saw Shoupe rush at the police officer who arrived. Shoupe seemed angry, he said, that police had arrived.
“It was just that simple. It was nothing else. It was just that the police showed up, he ran at them and they shot him,” Massey said.
Crisis team had helped Shoupe
Shoupe’s aunt, Denise Spooner of Midland, said her nephew struggled with mental illness and sometimes had trouble “getting his medications right.” Spooner said he was living with his mother at the apartment complex near Tuckaseegee Road in west Charlotte. Police were also at the home on Thursday afternoon to assist emergency medical workers at Shoupe’s address. No details of the incident were available.
A Dec. 30 incident report from the same address shows Shoupe called police around 5:50 p.m. The report lists him as having a “mental handicap.” Few details are in that report other than that crisis intervention officers spoke to Shoupe and took him to Presbyterian Hospital for medical reasons.
CMPD has more than 600 police officers who are specially-trained as part of a “crisis intervention team” to handle suicide calls and other mental health-related emergencies.
The program – often referred to as “CIT” – is used by police, emergency medical crews and other first responders nationwide. Police officers can earn CIT certification by taking part in a week-long class.
The training class gives officers an overview of mental and behavioral health issues as well as addiction and substance abuse. In the class, officers also learn about community-based mental health options that could be helpful for families or people they interact with.
CIT officers are taught non-physical de-escalation tactics to use during potentially violent situations. The training focuses on talking calmly to a person in a mental health crisis and not cornering them or moving in on them quickly.
CMPD told the Observer that CIT officers were on their way to Shoupe’s home Friday but Flynn arrived first. Flynn has been with the department since 2006. He has not gone through crisis intervention training, according to CMPD.
CMPD’s protocol calls for all officers involved in a shooting to be placed on administrative leave. CMPD confirmed Flynn is on leave.
“This is a criminal investigation, and we’re doing a parallel internal investigation to make sure no policies were violated,” CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said in a news conference Friday.
This is the second shooting in 2018 that involved CMPD officers.
In January, a 23-year-old man was fatally wounded after he ambushed officers at CMPD headquarters. The man, Jonathan Bennett, had been suspected of killing the mother of his infant daughter earlier that day. Casey Shue, an officer, was also injured in the ambush.
Observer photographer Jeff Siner and researcher Maria David contributed
LaVendrick Smith: @LaVendrickS