Crime & Courts

CMPD releases names in Thursday’s officer-involved fatal shooting

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police on Friday released more details about the officer-involved fatal shooting on North Tryon Street late Thursday.

The officers, identified as Michael Bell and Garret Tryon, have been placed on paid administrative leave, standard procedure with any officer-involved shooting. Police said 18-year-old Rodney Rodriguez Smith of Charlotte was armed.

Smith was suspected of shooting and seriously injuring a man on a Charlotte city bus Thursday night. Police said Smith knew the victim on the bus and that the shooting was not a random act of violence.

Police said Smith fired at least one shot at the officers, and the officers fired multiple times at Smith.

Authorities have not released the name of the victim shot on the bus. That person was taken to Carolinas Medical Center and treated for an injury that was not life-threatening.

On Friday, police released more details about what led up to the fatal shooting.

Officers were summoned to North Tryon Street near University City Boulevard just after 10 p.m. by someone who said a man had been shot on a CATS bus, according to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department news release. The caller reported seeing the shooter walking on North Tryon Street toward uptown Charlotte.

As officers approached the scene, they saw the suspect and left their patrol cruisers to engage him. That’s when the officers determined the man was armed, police said.

“During the encounter, they perceived an imminent deadly threat and fired their service weapons striking the subject,” according to the news release. Paramedics pronounced the suspect dead on the scene. The officers weren’t injured.

Investigators said they recovered a handgun from the dead man.

Bell has been a CMPD officer since Sept. 14, 2009, and Tryon since Oct. 21, 2013. Both are assigned to patrol in CMPD’s University City Division.

On Friday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney praised the officers.

“The heroic actions of these officers very likely protected other members of our community from additional harm,” Putney said. “This is yet another illustration of the commitment of our officers who serve selflessly to keep our community safe.”

Thursday’s shooting was the fifth fatal officer-involved by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer in the past six months.:

▪  Dec. 24. Daquan Westbrook, 19, was fatally shot by Officer Thomas Ferguson, who was working a security job at Northlake Mall. Westbrook had shot a man inside a Journeys store during an altercation. Police say he turned and pointed his gun toward Ferguson.

▪  Jan. 3. Germonta Wallace, 30, was shot by a total of eight officers with the department’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team, which had tracked the murder suspect to a duplex off Remount Road. Police say Wallace and another suspect happened upon investigating officers and that Wallace opened fire.

▪  Jan. 5. Carlton Murphy was shot and killed after firing dozens of rounds at officers responding to a shots-fired call at a west Charlotte apartment. Witnesses said Murphy seemed intent on killing officers, taunting: “I just killed one. I can kill more.”

▪  April 19. Sylasone Ackhavong was shot and killed by a SWAT officer after a standoff at a convenience store at Tuckaseegee and Little Rock roads in west Charlotte. Ackhavong had threatened to kill himself and pointed his gun toward officers. He was shot and killed by SWAT Officers Olin Lester and Derek Rud. Lester was involved in a fatal shooting under similar circumstances in 2013.

Police encouraged anyone with information on Thursday night’s shooting or the events leading up to it to call 704-432-TIPS (8477). People can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak