Crime & Courts

Family of man killed by CMPD SWAT team requests SBI probe into death

The family of Sylasone Ackhavong, who was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police at a 7-Eleven convenience store in April, has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the officer-involved death.
The family of Sylasone Ackhavong, who was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police at a 7-Eleven convenience store in April, has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the officer-involved death. Davie Hinshaw

The family of a man who was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police in April has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the officer-involved death.

Sylasone Ackhavong, 41, was fatally shot by CMPD SWAT team officers on April 19. The shooting was the second time SWAT team member Olin Lester had killed someone in the line of duty. He and Officer Derek Rud were placed on administrative leave as police conducted parallel criminal and internal investigations – routine procedure after an officer-involved shooting.

But North Carolina law allows family members of people shot and killed by police to request that the SBI conduct the criminal investigation. In either case, the Mecklenburg District Attorney will determine whether the shooting was lawful.

Ackhavong was shot outside a 7-Eleven convenience store on Tuckaseegee Road around 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. The store’s clerk told a 911 dispatcher that Ackhavong tried to go over the register and take her car keys. As she called, she said he was trying to break back into the store.

Ackhavong threatened to kill himself, according to a report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

After the SWAT team was called in, the gunman raised his weapon and pointed it toward the officers, according to the report. That’s when officers fired.

Ackhavong’s shooting was one of five fatal officer-involved shootings in the last six months.

The others:

▪ 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 and 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.”

▪ June 2: Rodney Rodriguez Smith, 18, was shot by officers responding to reports of a shooting on a city bus on North Tryon Street near University City Boulevard. Police say Smith shot and seriously injured the man on the bus and later shot at two officers who approached him nearby.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: 704-358-5046, @CleveWootson

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