Crime & Courts

No charges for officers who killed man during 'ambush' outside CMPD headquarters

The officers who shot and killed a 23-year-old homicide suspect during an "ambush" outside Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters in January will not be charged, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced Monday.

Two CMPD officers and two probation officers returned fire when Jonathan Bennett, 23, pulled into the parking lot just before 11 p.m. on Jan. 11 and began shooting, Merriweather's report states.

"He ambushed us," CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said the day after the shooting.

CMPD Officer Casey Shue was shot in the upper left thigh, according to the report. She survived.

"Body-worn camera ... footage shows the gunfire exchange lasted approximately 6 to 10 seconds," the report states.

Bennett was pronounced dead at Carolinas Medical Center at 11:15 p.m.

Police had already announced that Bennett was their suspect in the shooting death of his girlfriend, 24-year-old Brittany White, that afternoon.

Four probation officers and seven CMPD officers were meeting in the parking lot of CMPD's Law Enforcement Center on East Trade Street to discuss an unrelated series of probation compliance checks when Bennett arrived in the parking lot, the report said.

The two probation officers who shot Bennett — Jason Dzierzynski and Dwain Johnson — pulled into the parking lot just before Bennett and parked close to him, the report said. The officers told investigators that they encountered Bennett as he began shooting at a group of CMPD officers farther down the parking lot, so they shot him, the report said.

Probation officers do not wear body cameras, and neither probation officer remembered how many times he fired his gun, the report said.

The two CMPD officers who shot Bennett, Jeffrey Zederbaum and Jared Decker, responded when they heard Bennett's shots and returned fire, the report said.

The shooting led to more intense security procedures at CMPD's headquarters. Visitors now have to speak to a front desk officer via intercom before being allowed inside the lobby.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester
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