Man killed by police identified, 2 officers on leave as investigation begins

Police shot and killed a man they said had a gun in northeast Charlotte late Wednesday.
Police shot and killed a man they said had a gun in northeast Charlotte late Wednesday. WBTV

The man killed by police in northeast Charlotte Wednesday night has been identified as Rueben Galindo, 29.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said two officers were involved in shooting Galindo. Officer Courtney Suggs has been working for CMPD since December 2014, and Officer David Guerra has been with the department since April 2013, police said.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in cases like this.

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said a man called the police at about 9:10 p.m. Wednesday and said he had a gun. Putney also said there was a language barrier during the 911 call, which has not been released yet.

When officers got to the scene, at Hunters Pointe apartment complex on Prospect Drive, near where West Sugar Creek Road crosses Interstate 85, they saw Galindo with his hands in his waistband, Putney said. Officers ordered him to raise his hands.

“At some point, one of his hands is raised,” the chief said. “They see a weapon, a handgun. They perceive a lethal threat that’s imminent, and at least two officers we believe right now fired their weapons.”

Galindo was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police at the scene recovered a gun, which they said Galindo was holding when he was shot.

Galindo was scheduled to stand trial in Mecklenburg County Criminal Court on Monday on a charge of misdemeanor assault by pointing gun, stemming from an April 12 incident, court records show. Details of the case were not available on Thursday night.

When police shoot someone, two investigations begin as part of standard procedure. The shooting will be investigated like any other shooting in Charlotte, and CMPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau will also hold an internal investigation to see if officers followed department policy and procedures.

CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said the department will petition in court for the public release of body camera footage of the shooting, though he said it’s too early to say when that will happen.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts tweeted sympathy for Galindo’s family just after midnight Thursday. She also said city officials are working with Putney to ensure a full, transparent investigation. On Thursday morning, she tweeted again and said she had conveyed her support for the officers to Putney.

The president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, Mark Michalec, criticized Roberts’ response in a letter Thursday afternoon. He said he had been getting comments about her reaction from his members all day.

“The initial comments stirred up a great deal of resentment towards you,” he wrote, referring to her initial tweet just after midnight.

Michalec said Roberts’ tweet about ensuring a full investigation indicated a lack of confidence in CMPD, and he said she should have immediately expressed sympathy for the officers’ families at the same time as her message to Galindo’s family.

Residents at a Charlotte apartment complex where police shot and killed a man with a gun on Wednesday night say they’re using extra caution.

“We ask God to protect us. That’s really all you can do,” a woman who lives at Hunters Pointe told the Charlotte Observer on Thursday. She asked that her name not be used, out of concern for her safety and of her two young children. In the past two years, she said, she’s grown increasingly concerned for her children’s safety. She said she never lets her children go outside after dark. They've lived in the apartment complex for four years.

Reporters Anna Douglas, Cristina Bolling and Joe Marusak contributed to this story.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester