Campaign Coverage 2020

Police: Officer suspended for handling of a traffic stop



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A police officer in North Carolina has been suspended for his handling of a traffic stop last year in which officers drew their weapons, broke car windows and that resulted in the driver of the vehicle suffering a broken elbow.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said in a news release Thursday that a review board in April determined that the arresting officer’s actions were consistent with department training and policy, but that his management of the encounter violated department policy. The unidentified officer received an 80-hour unpaid suspension, is ineligible for promotion for a period of two years and has been reassigned from his specialty unit, according to police.

On Dec. 5, 2019, officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department stopped a car near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport for what police believed was a fictitious license plate. Three officers with their weapons drawn approached the car after the motorist initially didn’t stop for the blue light and siren.

A video released by the police department of the encounter shows officers repeatedly yelling at the driver to open the car door and threatening to break the windows as someone could be heard screaming at them. Ultimately, two of the officers used their batons to break the windows after the driver refused to lower them.

According to the police statement, the driver resisted arrest, leading the officer to use physical force. As the occupants of the car were taken out, one man was heard yelling, “What have I done?” Later in the video, a man who was being handcuffed was shown shouting in pain, and saying, "The handcuffs hurt!”

Anthony Caldwell, 37, who is Black, was placed in the back of a police vehicle and taken to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, where charges were filed, police said.

Once he was released, Caldwell drove himself to the hospital to have his arm pain examined. According to police, he suffered a fractured elbow, The Charlotte Observer reported. Caldwell ultimately filed a complaint against the arresting officer, and the CMPD launched an internal investigation.

The review also determined two other officers violated department policy. One of the officers closed a police vehicle’s door on Caldwell’s foot and then failed to report the incident to a supervisor. WBTV reported that the officer received a 24-hour unpaid suspension and also reported that a sergeant on the scene, who police said violated the department’s Rules of Conduct, was issued a written reprimand for not speaking with Caldwell when he asked to speak with a supervisor.

The incident comes amid months of protests nationwide against the treatment of African Americans by police and accusations of systematic brutality.

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