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NAACP wants SBI to look at shootings

Charlotte's latest police-involved shooting has state NAACP leaders pushing for a law that would require the SBI to investigate all such shootings across the state.

The agency intends to take its message to Raleigh this month, after Aaron Winchester was shot twice in the back May 20 by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, said the Rev. William Barber, North Carolina's NAACP president.

He met with community leaders and ministers in Charlotte on Thursday to discuss the shooting that happened after Officer David Jester questioned Winchester about a domestic dispute and an ensuing car crash.

Winchester ran, and police say he removed a silver handgun from his back right pocket and “started to turn toward the officer with the gun in his hand.”

But five witnesses interviewed by the Observer say they didn't see Winchester reaching for a gun, holding a gun, or turning toward the officer, even slightly. The shooting was the third time in seven months a suspect has died in a confrontation with CMPD – prompting advocacy groups, including the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, to step in.

CMPD typically investigates its own deadly force cases and provides its findings to the district attorney. In this case, after consulting with the interim police chief, the Mecklenburg district attorney requested an independent SBI investigation.

Of the 36 shootings by Charlotte police in the past decade, 31 were ruled justified in the department's investigations. The most recent five, all in 2008, remain under investigation by the department.

A new state law allows families to request an outside investigation. But Barber said Thursday that the NAACP will fight for all shootings to be investigated by the SBI to build trust and show transparency.

Initially, the agency was advocating for only CMPD to make the SBI investigations a matter of policy.

“We don't want it left up to the DA to decide or for the family to have to ask for it,” Barber said. The NAACP also is calling for a full review of the previous police shootings the SBI didn't investigate.

After Thursday's meeting, the NAACP said it also will push for more training for CMPD officers on the use of deadly force and improved community policing.

Sharpton plans to visit Charlotte today.

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