Homicide Detectives Conduct Investigation in the Death of Harold Easter

 
 
 
10/1/2020
Case Update: Homicide Detectives Conducting Investigation    



Case Update: Homicide Detectives Conducting Investigation
    Charlotte, N.C. – (Friday, September 18, 2020) – In response to the internal investigation into the death of Harold Easter, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has cited five sworn employees for termination.

    On January 23, 2020, Mr. Easter experienced a medical emergency while in the custody of the CMPD and was later pronounced deceased on January 26, 2020. As is standard procedure for any in-custody death, the five sworn employees involved in the incident were immediately placed on administrative leave with pay to ensure their actions were consistent with the CMPD’s policies and procedures. During this time, an internal investigation was launched.

    On January 31, 2020, it was announced that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) would conduct an independent investigation into the death of Mr. Easter. The SBI has since turned the findings of their investigation over to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, and the criminal investigation is pending with the District Attorney.

    In response to the internal review of this incident, four departmental directives were revised on February 6, 2020, and implemented on March 18, 2020. Under the prior directive, officers were required to make visual observation of a subject in custody at least every 15 minutes. The attached policies have since been updated to require officers to maintain continuous observation of a subject when in the custody of the CMPD.

    Following his swearing-in, Chief Jennings placed all of the involved officers on administrative assignment, effective July 8th. Chief Jennings also ordered an independent chain of command review to be scheduled to ensure accountability.

    On September 11, 2020, Superior Court Judge Carla Archie ordered all law enforcement video recordings associated with this case to be released to the public on October 1, 2020. The CMPD will provide additional information on the release of these videos once they have been released.

    On September 17, 2020, an independent chain of command review board, comprised of officers across several ranks and a civilian from the Community Relations Committee, concluded the internal investigation and cited five sworn employees for termination.

    Attached is a sequence of the events surrounding this incident. The investigation into this case is active and ongoing. As additional information develops, it will be released by the CMPD’s Public Affairs Office. For additional information about this case, please refer to the report: 20200123-1316-01.

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Case Update: Homicide Detectives Conducting Investigation
    Charlotte, N.C. – (Thursday, January 30, 2020) – After consulting with Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather and family members of Mr. Easter, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has requested the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to conduct an independent investigation into the incident. Any questions concerning the criminal investigation should be directed to the SBI. At the conclusion of the SBI’s investigation, the CMPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau will conduct a separate investigation to ensure CMPD policies and procedures were followed during the incident.

    Chief Putney and District Attorney Merriweather will be available to the media tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., at CMPD headquarters, to discuss protocols related to outside agency investigations of CMPD officer involved shooting and in-custody death cases.

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Case Update: Homicide Detectives Conducting Investigation
    Charlotte, N.C. – (Monday, January 27, 2020) – The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Homicide Unit and Internal Affairs Bureau are continuing to investigate the circumstances involving this incident. As is standard procedure for any in-custody death investigation, the officers involved in the incident are placed on administrative leave to ensure their actions were consistent with the CMPD’s policies and procedures. Below is a list of members of the CMPD related to the incident:
    • Sergeant Nicolas Vincent was hired on January 28, 2008, and is assigned to the Metro Division.
    • Officer Brentley Vinson was hired on July 21, 2014, and is assigned to the Metro Division.
    • Officer Michael Benfield was hired on October 27, 2014, and is assigned to the Metro Division.
    • Officer Michael Joseph was hired on May 21, 2018, and is assigned to the Metro Division.
    • Officer Shon Sheffield was hired on August 13, 2012, and is assigned to the Metro Division.

    The investigation into this case is active and ongoing. As additional information develops, it will be released by the CMPD’s Public Affairs Office. For additional information about this case, please refer to the report: 20200123-1316-01.

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Case Update: Homicide Detectives Conducting Investigation
    Charlotte, N.C. – (Sunday, January 26, 2020) – On January 26, 2020, Harold Easter passed away as a result of the medical emergency he sustained on January 23, 2020. His family has been notified of his death.

    The investigation into this case is active and ongoing. As additional information develops, it will be released by the CMPD’s Public Affairs Office. For additional information about this case, please refer to the report: 20200123131601.

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Homicide Detectives Conducting Investigation
    Charlotte, N.C. – (Friday, January 24, 2020) – Detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Homicide Unit are conducting an investigation into the circumstances involving a suspect who experienced a life-threatening, medical emergency while in the custody of officers.

    On January 23, 2020, at approximately 11:40 a.m., officers in the Metro Division observed a suspected drug transaction near the intersection of Whisnant Street and Burton Street and conducted a traffic stop on a suspect vehicle. Harold Easter, DOB: 11/30/1978, was the driver of the vehicle and was found to be in possession of cocaine and marijuana. Easter was taken into custody for drug and traffic charges and then transported to the Metro Division team office for an interview and arrest processing. Preliminary information indicates that during this process, Easter began experiencing a medical emergency and lost consciousness. Officers began administering medical aid and requested Medic. Easter was transported by Medic to a nearby hospital where he is currently being treated for his life-threatening condition.

    Detectives with the CMPD’s Homicide Unit are conducting an investigation into this case because of the life-threatening, medical emergency experienced by Easter while in the custody of officers. The CMPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is also conducting a separate but parallel investigation to ensure the officers’ actions were consistent with the CMPD’s policies and procedures.

    The investigation into this case is active and ongoing. As additional information develops, it will be released by the CMPD’s Public Affairs Office. For additional information about this case, please refer to the report: 20200123131601.

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