Cops go scot-free for murder of 16 year old African-American youth

CMPD Officer Not Charged for Shooting Teen, Jan. 31, 2008

The CMPD officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Laquan Brown will not face any charges.

You may remember this happened back in November.

It was off Albemarle road at the Casa De Lago apartments.

WBTV's Rob Tufano reports that Brown's parents were adamant that he was not armed when he was shot.

The medical examiner said he was shot in the back.

According to the DA the kid was armed. The DA says his fingerprints were even found on the magazine of the gun.

As for him being shot in the back, investigators say Officer Wheaton popped off two shots. He missed with the first and the second shot hit him in the lower back as he was turning his body.

Investigators believe LaQuan Brown was breaking into a car in the apartment complex early that morning in November. They say they found a screwdriver on him and a car with pry marks on it 40 feet away from where Police originally spotted Brown.

They say the teen leveled a gun at the officer before Wheaton shot him.

The DA is calling it self-defense and saying all of the evidence corroborates what Wheaton told investigators.

Officer won't be charged in shooting, Jan. 31, 2008

CHARLOTTE -- The district attorney has decided not to press charges against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Jeffrey Wheaton in an officer-involved shooting that ended with the death of 16-year-old Laquan Brown.

Investigators say Brown was shot in the back by the second of two shots Wheaton fired.

Brown was running away from the Casa Del Lago apartments shortly after allegedly breaking into a car in the area. The district attorney said officers Wheaton and Brian Carey demanded that Brown stop running, but that he did not obey their commands.

A gun was found 20 feet away from Brown’s body. Authorities believe Brown dropped the gun while trying to get away.

That gun was linked by ballistics testing to two open, unsolved cases involving felony discharging of weapon.

The district attorney determined that Wheaton was acting in self defense. The CMPD said they are conducting a separate internal investigation to determine whether all policies were followed.

District Attorney Press Release:

On November 4, 2007, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officers Brian Carey and Jeffrey Wheaton were both on duty. They were assigned to the Eastway Division as a special street crimes unit to combat drugs, weapon and armed robbery crimes within that division.

At 0115 hours a resident of the apartments called 911 and reported a suspected armed robbery in progress with numerous armed Hispanic males, with possible gang connections. Officers Carey and Wheaton, who were just leaving the intake center, heard the call and agreed to respond at 0121. They were both in police uniforms and in a marked car Officer Carey was driving. They first responded with blue lights and sirens. As they neared the apartments they turned off the siren. As they entered the complex at 0124, the blue lights were turned off.

Both officers noticed a white vehicle with a black male inside parked near the original call. Since he did not match the description in the dispatched complaint, they proceeded into the parking lot and began to circle the area. While circulating the area they both noticed that the car they had originally observed was leaving the area and they followed. Both officers soon noticed a black male on the sidewalk near a building on foot and running. They radioed in at 01:27:47 that they had observed someone running and then they followed in the marked unit. The man continued running and turned right and, realizing he hit a dead end, turned around to backtrack. Officer Wheaton jumped out of the patrol car and started a pursuit on foot. Both officers, one in the patrol car and the other on foot, continued the pursuit.

Officer Wheaton lost sight of the man when he rounded the corner of another building. When Officer Wheaton next saw the man, he was crouched down near some stairs in a hallway. The man appeared to be watching the patrol car. Officer Wheaton saw an object in the man’s hand that he believed to be a gun. At this point Wheaton pulled his service weapon. The man started to run again. Officer Wheaton began to yell commands to stop and identified himself as a police officer.

The man continued to run and Officer Wheaton chased. As the man reached the end of the hallway he turned left. At this point Officer Wheaton saw that Officer Carey was on foot and behind him. He yelled to Officer Carey that the man had a gun. Officer Carey stated that he also identified himself as police and yelled to stop. Various residents of the apartments heard someone yelling, “Stop! Stop!” As Officer Carey chased the man, he saw the man turn right at a dumpster and slow down. Officer Wheaton continued his pursuit by running straight into the parking lot in an attempt to cut off the man. He saw the man appear in between two cars in the parking lot and described his arm as being leveled at him and a gun pointed at him. He fired two shots in rapid succession.

A minute and 29 seconds after the radio call that there was one suspect running, the call came in of shots fired. The man was only hit once, in the left lower back. It appears the second shot, as he was turning away from the first shot, struck him. Officer Carey did not see what happened before the first shot but he did hear the second shot and saw the suspect going down.

Officers Wheaton and Carey approached the man who appeared to have life-threatening injuries. They called for Medic and began to administer life-saving measures.

The man was identified as LaQuan Brown.

Numerous officers, as well as detectives responded to the scene and began an investigation. A cell phone belt holder was on Mr. Brown and a phone was found near his hand. A gun was not found on Mr. Brown’s person. A patrol officer searched the path run by Mr. Brown and located a 40 caliber gun beside the dumpster where Officer Carey saw Brown turn and slow down. This gun was approximately 20 feet from where Mr. Brown fell after being shot. This gun was fingerprinted and DNA tested.

Fingerprints found on the gun magazine inside the gun were identified as belonging to Mr. Brown. No prints matched Officers Wheaton, Carey or the officer who found the gun beside the dumpster. DNA found on the gun was consistent with the DNA of Mr. Brown. The likelihood of anyone else having that same DNA profile is more that one in one trillion. Once again, no DNA on the gun matched Officers Wheaton, Carey or the officer who found the gun.

Further investigation of the scene revealed a screwdriver in Mr. Brown’s pocket. A vehicle that was approximately 40 feet from where Mr. Brown was first spotted had been broken into. There were pry marks on the driver’s door which was the point of entry. DNA that was also linked to Mr. Brown was found there.

The gun that was recovered near Mr. Brown’s body with his DNA on it had been stolen April 27, 2006, from a car parked at 200 Sycamore Street. It also was linked by ballistics’ testing to two open, unsolved cases involving felony discharging of weapon. Mr. Brown’s background revealed an extensive mental health history and a history of violent crimes involving firearms.

In making a decision as to whether to charge Officer Wheaton in this case, the District Attorney’s Office has considered all of the above facts as well as the law of self defense.

The only eyewitness to this shooting is Officer Wheaton. The physical evidence corroborates what he told detectives. Officer Wheaton believed that his life was in danger and fired in self-defense. It is the State’s burden in a criminal case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a charged individual did not act in self defense. The State cannot meet that burden in this case as it appears from all the credible evidence that Mr. Brown was armed and Officer Wheaton feared for his life.

Teen's mother questions police shooting
By NATALIE DICK,, Nov. 6, 2007

Video at WCNC's website, click here.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are still many unanswered questions surrounding a fatal police shooting over the weekend that left a local teen dead.

Two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers are on administrative leave while criminal and internal affairs investigations are being conducted.

Meantime, the family of the slain teen is speaking out, demanding that further explanations be given to how and why 16-year-old LaQuan Brown was shot and killed.

His mother, Melissa Brown, spoke with WCNC on Monday.

"Basically I'm numb," she said. "Numb to the fact right now that he's not coming back. I keep expecting him to walk right through that door any time even though I know in the back of my mind that he's really not."

Brown was shot after running from two officers who were responding to a reported robbery just after 1 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the Casa De Largo Apartments off Albemarle Road.

Initial calls to 911 reportedly were of a group of Hispanic males possibly robbing an individual there. When police arrived, the officers said Brown took off in the opposite direction.

Authorities say he was seen carrying a gun, repeatedly ignored verbal commands to stop and then raised one hand seconds before the fatal shots were fired.

Police haven't said if it was the hand in which he allegedly held the weapon.

"For what reason he ran, I have no idea,” said Brown's mother. "I do know that my son was scared of the police. He was bi-polar."

Melissa Brown admitted her son had a previous record that included felony charges but said he'd gotten back on track and did not own a gun.

"Why did they shoot him? What was the reason?" she and other family members now ask.

"To me, that's irrelevant (his record) to the fact,” Melissa Brown said. “They shot and killed my son. For whatever reason he was over there, he still did not deserve to be shot like that. He was a child. A 16-year-old child."

Funeral arrangements for Brown are still pending. The family says they don't have enough money to properly bury him.

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