Crime & Courts

Charlotte activists disrupt courtroom after accused killer’s hearing

A routine hearing for accused murderer Rayquan Borum came and went quietly in a Mecklenburg courtroom on Thursday.

The aftermath was neither quiet nor routine.

Some 15 minutes after Borum’s brief procedural hearing ended, about a dozen members of Charlotte Uprising, an activist group continuing to protest Borum’s arrest, rose in the back of the fifth-floor courtroom and faced Superior Court Judge Bob Bell.

The group’s spokesperson loudly accused authorities of unlawfully holding Borum in solitary confinement at the Mecklenburg Jail for more than 20 days. He continued to shout on Borum’s behalf as deputies scrambled toward him.

“We are watching you, and we will not be silenced,” the spokesperson said.

Then deputies led the group out of the courtroom. Bell did not respond. In a matter of seconds, order was restored.

Borum is charged with the Sept. 21 killing of Justin Carr, which occurred during widespread demonstrations over a controversial police killing the day before.

Borum, 21, has been indicted for murder in connection with the shooting, which happened near the corner of College and Trade streets while hundreds of people demonstrated against the Sept. 20 police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

Prosecutors and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say a compilation of surveillance videos shows Borum firing a shot and then fleeing. Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones has said Borum admitted firing a gun that night. Borum’s attorney, Terry Sherrill, disputes that the gunshot hit Carr.

A segment of the community still believes police shot and killed Carr. The mostly young members of Charlotte Uprising consider Borum a political prisoner who has been scapegoated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Borum, who is scheduled to be back in court in April, did not appear at his hearing. Afterward, Sherrill told the Observer outside the courtroom that his client had “been put in the hole” for a few days at the jail for violation of jail rules. He made it sound as if solitary confinement is a routine occurrence for inmates jailed for an extended period of time.

Later, the spokesperson for Charlotte Uprising told the courtroom that Borum’s confinement was “a human rights violation.” One of the group’s leaders had used Facebook on Wednesday to say that Borum’s solitary confinement was ending and to urge members to attend Borum’s hearing.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department, which operates the jail, did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS