Mother of Black Man Shot and Killed by Police Outside North Carolina Burger King Files Lawsuit 10 Months After Officer Cleared

The mother of a black man who was fatally shot last year by Charlotte police outside a Burger King in North Carolina filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city and the officer involved in the shooting.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Deborah Franklin by attorney Luke Largess alleged Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Metro Division Officer Wende Kerl and the city were both responsible for the negligent police training practices that resulted in Danquirs Franklin's death.

"The use of deadly force by Defendant Kerl was unreasonable and excessive under the circumstances," the lawsuit said.

"Her unjustified actions displayed willful and wanton disregard of [Franklin's] rights and well-being and exceeded the scope of her lawful authority, thereby piercing any entitlement to public officer immunity," the suit continued.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers
CMPD officers stand in line during a demonstration for the end of police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina, on June 2. On Thursday, the mother of a black man who was shot and killed by a CMPD officer in Charlotte last year filed a lawsuit against the city and the officer. LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images

According to an incident report the CMPD released last year, police received two 911 calls from a Burger King in Charlotte about a man approaching employees with a gun the morning of March 25, 2019. Kerl and Metro Division Officer Larry Deal were sent to the scene, where they spotted 27-year-old Franklin crouched next to a car outside the restaurant, the report said.

Kerl told Franklin to drop his gun and fired her own twice after she "perceived an imminent, deadly threat," the report said. Franklin was taken to a local hospital, where he died shortly thereafter.

The lawsuit said Franklin was responding that morning to a new development in an affair the mother of his three children was having with one of her Burger King co-workers. Though he confronted the co-worker with a pistol at the Burger King, the lawsuit said he never fired his weapon and had placed it in his pocket while calming down during a conversation with another employee outside the restaurant before police arrived.

Franklin was following Kerl's command to drop his weapon by removing it from his pocket when he was shot, the lawsuit said.

"The failure to keep Kerl trained in the proper procedures for responding to an incident such as this was manifest in her negligent actions," the lawsuit alleged.

The CMPD released body camera footage of the shooting a month later. Last August, the Mecklenburg County district attorney's office released the findings of its investigation and said Kerl would not face criminal charges because "it seems unlikely a jury would find that Officer Kerl should have had any more certainty about the decedent's intentions with the firearm."

The police department's own review of the case, which determined the shooting was "justified," was unanimously criticized by the Charlotte Citizens Review Board earlier this year.

"A preponderance of the evidence in the case demonstrated that CMPD clearly erred in finding the fatal shooting of Danquirs Franklin justified during their review," counsel to the board Julian Wright told Charlotte TV station WCNC in February.

Kerl was approved to return to non-patrol investigative work in November, the station reported.

The legal action taken by Franklin's mother Thursday was announced as discussions on police violence, particularly against black Americans, continued across the country and around the world. In the nearly three weeks that have passed since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, protesters in the U.S. and around the world have rallied together to call for policing reform and an end to systemic racism.

Newsweek reached out to Largess and Charlotte city officials for comment and will update this article with any response.