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Pedestrian killed in CMPD crash had high blood alcohol level, records show

Police and firefighters respond to the intersection of Morehead Street at Euclid Avenue, where an officer struck and killed a pedestrian Saturday. Officer Phillip Barker was driving his cruiser at 100 mph in a 35 mph zone when he hit James Michael Short, police said.
Police and firefighters respond to the intersection of Morehead Street at Euclid Avenue, where an officer struck and killed a pedestrian Saturday. Officer Phillip Barker was driving his cruiser at 100 mph in a 35 mph zone when he hit James Michael Short, police said. WBTV

The pedestrian killed in July by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer driving more than 100 mph in a marked patrol car had a blood alcohol level triple the legal limit for driving, records show.

A toxicology report released Tuesday by the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shows that James Michael Short, 28, had a blood alcohol content of .24 based on a sample obtained on the date of his death.

People show reduced reaction time and visual perception skills starting at a level of .05, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Short was crossing Morehead Street at Euclid Avenue when he was struck and killed by CMPD Officer Phillip Barker, 24, who was driving more than 100 mph in a 35 mph zone through a green light.

Days after the crash, Barker was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle. Police Chief Kerr Putney said speed was the determining factor in deciding whether to charge Barker.

Barker’s defense lawyer, Charlotte attorney Michael Greene, said Thursday that the toxicology results are one reason why Putney should have waited before arresting Barker.

“The chief should have waited until the entire investigation was completed before making an arrest, and further, prior to making legal conclusions in public statements to the media.”

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester

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