Carlton Antonio Murphy Jr. was shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer and died of a bullet wound to the chest, according to an autopsy obtained by the Observer that answers a lingering question about how the 33-year-old died.
Police said they were unsure whether Murphy died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from an officer’s return fire following a January incident where he fired more than 30 rounds at responding officers.
Murphy’s death was the third time CMPD officers had been involved in a fatal shooting in a two-week period, after an officer-involved shooting at Northlake Mall and a shooting as officers tried to detain a murder suspect in west Charlotte.
In the shooting involving Murphy, someone called 911 around 5 a.m. saying shots had been fired. When officers arrived, a person began shooting at them from a second-floor balcony, police Chief Kerr Putney said at the scene.
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Officer Jacob Meadors returned fire, police said, and the shooter retreated into the apartment.
A SWAT team and negotiators were sent to the scene, CMPD said. They went inside the second-floor apartment and found the suspect dead, Putney said. No officers were injured.
According to the autopsy, Murphy, 33, was shot in the right part of his chest, just below a tattoo of a cross. The bullet caused fatal damage to parts of his heart, lungs and liver.
Murphy had caffeine and nicotine in his system when he was killed, but didn’t have any traces of other drugs.
Meadors, a five-year veteran of CMPD, has spent his entire career in the Freedom division, a mix of urban and rural communities in western Mecklenburg. He was placed on administrative leave, which is routine when an officer fires his gun in the line of duty.
Police said they were conducting a homicide investigation and an internal investigation, which will determine if CMPD procedures were followed. They have not released the results of that investigation.
Police still haven’t said why they believe Murphy began shooting in the first place, or why he fired shots at responding officers.