A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was fired this week after a review board determined she was unjustified in shooting a man at a Central Avenue gas station. The termination is the first in a police shooting in more than a decade.
Officer Jenny Curlee, a former dispatcher who graduated from the police academy in November, shot Brian Jarod Howie once in the arm and chest while responding to a call for backup help on May 7. Howie survived.
The Police Department gave this account:
Frank Lopez, a plain-clothes Alcohol Beverage Control officer, was at the Shell gas station and convenience store at 1920 Central Avenue when he saw a man drinking a beer in a car. Lopez radioed for backup, and then approached the passenger side of the Toyota Camry to confront the man, later identified as Guy Manuel Cabral.
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Officer Curlee arrived a few minutes later, and approached the driver's side. Officer Lopez told investigators he saw the passenger give what appeared to be drugs to Howie, who was in the driver's seat and placed the object in a console between the seats.
The ABC officer pulled out his Taser and told Howie to take the keys out of the ignition and comply with instructions. Curlee pulled her firearm. That's when, police said, they saw Howie reach to his right side near the center console area.
Lopez fired his Taser but it's unclear whether he hit Howie. Curlee fired her gun, striking Howie.
Howie and Cabral were apparently unarmed, and no weapon was found in the car, according to police.
Howie, 29, and Cabral, 51, were charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine.
Under state law and Police Department policies, officers can use deadly force when it is necessary to defend themselves or others from imminent danger.
Curlee could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The last time an officer was disciplined in a shooting was in 1997, CMPD Capt. Chuck Adkins said. Officer Shannon Jordan was fired after he and Officer Donn Belz shot 22 times at a moving car, killing a 33-year-old passenger – Carolyn Sue Boetticher – with a gunshot wound to the back of the neck. Belz was suspended 30 days and returned to duty.