Crime & Courts

Witness: Officer didn’t have to shoot

The girlfriend of a woman fatally shot by a CMPD officer told a television station Friday that she does not believe police needed to use lethal force.

Kornesha Banks said in an interview with WSOC that she was inside the north Charlotte public housing unit on Wednesday when Officer Anthony Holzhauer shot 20-year-old Janisha Fonville.

Authorities received a call about 9 p.m. about domestic violence involving two women at an apartment on Bellefonte Drive, just north of uptown.

Banks said she met the officers outside and warned them Fonville was brandishing a knife. She said she followed police inside and stayed behind them.

Fonville came toward the officers with the knife, she said, but was still six or seven feet away when Holzhauer fired two shots into Fonville.

“He got scared so he shot her,” Banks told the station.

The account echoes complaints from neighbors and others who question why police did not use a Taser or another tactic instead of shooting. They say Fonville was quiet and was not imposing since she stood only about 5 feet tall.

On Friday, a cardboard box reading “Justice 4 Janisha” stood outside a neighbor’s apartment.

Virginia Byrd, who said she was Fonville’s godmother, said her family erected the sign because they feel the shooting wasn’t justified. “Police should be trained better than to just shoot,” Byrd said.

She noted that this is second time Holzhauer has fatally shot a suspect and the third shooting he was involved in since 2012.

But Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have said when officers arrived in the apartment, Fonville moved into a crouch, extended her arm and lunged at them with the knife.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe has also said the officers were in a confined space, which can increase the threat.

Holzhauer’s attorney, Michael Greene, has said his client acted appropriately and followed CMPD procedures.

Clasen-Kelly: 704 358-5027