Crime

Video from January shows CMPD officer shoot, kill knife-wielding man in parking lot

Body cam video shows CMPD officer shooting, killing Michael Daniel Kelley

CMPD releases partial police body cam video of Michael Daniel Kelley on January 16, 2019. Kelley's family says he struggled with addiction and may have led him to commit two robberies before he died.
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CMPD releases partial police body cam video of Michael Daniel Kelley on January 16, 2019. Kelley's family says he struggled with addiction and may have led him to commit two robberies before he died.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police released two minutes and seven seconds of body camera video Wednesday showing the fatal police shooting of Michael Daniel “Danny” Kelley, who was killed in west Charlotte on Jan. 16.

In this shooting, as in the fatal CMPD shooting of Danquirs Franklin two months later, police released only a small portion of all available video. Department officials say they’re changing that practice, which attracted criticism and questions about police transparency after the existence of more Franklin video came to light.

The video shows Kelley, 32, running across a parking lot toward Officer Timothy Kiefer, who yelled commands.

At one point, Kelley can be heard saying, “I’ll shoot you,” and Kiefer reported that statement over his radio.

Police later said Kelley was armed with a knife and that he was the suspect in two robberies earlier that day.

As Kelley continued to approach Kiefer, the officer fired several shots. Kelley fell to the ground, about 30 seconds after Kiefer opened his car door and their interaction began.

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced March 26 that Kiefer would not be charged in connection with this shooting.

More video exists

The Charlotte Observer received the short video in response to a court petition for the release of “all body camera and dashcam video from the encounter in the 1500 block West Blvd.” Police spokeswoman Sandy D’Elosua Vastola said there was more video from Kiefer’s body camera that CMPD did not initially submit to the judge.

D’Elosua Vastola said there are also 68 other videos recorded at the scene of the Kelley shooting. CMPD filed a petition in court Tuesday for more video to be released, according to a copy of the petition provided to the Observer.

She said CMPD has a new policy that involves turning over more video to the judge. The Observer requested the exact wording of that policy, and D’Elosua Vastola said it is still being revised.

The Observer reported last Thursday that CMPD had withheld at least 9 minutes of bodycam video in the police shooting of Danquirs Franklin at a west Charlotte Burger King on March 25.

In court Tuesday, Judge Lisa Bell chided CMPD for that. CMPD Chief Kerr Putney testified there are “dozens” of other videos from the Franklin episode.

Petition initially denied

The Observer’s petition for the Kelley videos was initially denied, with a superior court judge ruling that the video could not be released while the criminal investigation into Kiefer was ongoing.

After Merriweather decided Kiefer would not be charged, the judge agreed to reconsider the Observer’s petition and release the short video.

Shortly after Kelley was killed, his parents told the Observer that their son had battled addiction and they had no ill feelings toward Kiefer. Kelley’s grandfather and father are retired police officers, the Kelley family said.

“It is our belief at this time that the actions of Danny ... left the officer with no other reasonable course of action than to use deadly force to protect himself and the community at large,” his parents wrote in a statement the week of the shooting.

Kelley’s mother did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the video Wednesday.

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Jane Wester is a Charlotte native and has been covering criminal justice and public safety for The Charlotte Observer since May 2017.


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