CMPD chief, FOP defend officers who handcuffed NC teacher

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings “stands behind” the officers involved in the wrongful handcuffing of a teacher at gunpoint last summer, he said in a statement Friday night.

Jennings’ defense of the officers came a day after the Citizens Review Board, in an 8-2 vote, found that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police erred in not disciplining its officers in the case.

It’s just the third time the board has ruled against CMPD, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

Jasmine Horne, a teacher with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, was detained on June 14, 2021, when police mistook her for a suspect with the same last name and a similarly spelled first name. Officers tracked down her car, confronted her at a gunpoint in front of her home, and put her in handcuffs for around 15 minutes.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police misidentified, drew their guns on and handcuffed Jasmine Horne, a school teacher, while looking for a stabbing suspect with a similar name. Horne has taken her case to the Citizens Review Board, which investigates complaints against police. Screenshot of video from police body camera footage

The board, which held an initial hearing in April, will submit its disciplinary recommendations to Jennings and City Manager Marcus Jones likely within “a couple of weeks,” board attorney Cary Davis said.

Jennings will then have seven days to accept or reject the board’s recommendations, Davis said.

Jones will then have seven days to act on whatever the chief decides, and his decision will be final.

Jennings initially decided to not punish his officers.

“The actions of the officers who detained Jasmine Horne were found to be within the policy of the CMPD as the officers were acting in good faith with the information that they were provided,” the department said on social media April 8.

‘Did their jobs,’ chief says

In his Friday night statement, Jennings said he believes the officers “acted respectfully during the encounter and did their jobs according to the information they were provided at the time.”

“We were looking for a very dangerous individual wanted for a serious violent crime,” the chief said. “As soon as our officers identified the identity error, they took corrective action, apologized to the individual involved and released her.”

The violent crime was stabbing.

“While I stand behind the actions of those officers, I also have a great deal of respect for the CRB and their role in accountability for our agency,” Jennings said.

“I appreciate their review of the case and look forward to receiving their recommendations for consideration to continue to improve our role in serving and protecting our citizens,” the chief said.

Fraternal Order of Police reaction

Saturday evening, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 9, said it was “disappointed” by the Citizen Review Board’s conclusions in the case.

“Decisions in applying discipline must be done in accordance with policies and practices afforded to law enforcement officers when dealing with matters that rapidly evolve,” according to an FOP statement. “While unfortunate for Ms. Horne, the officers involved in this matter conducted themselves accordingly given the facts they knew at the time.”

Lawyer’s reaction

Horne did not speak to reporters after Thursday’s hearing, but her attorney, Darlene Harris, called the board’s ruling a “first step in the right direction.”

Harris said she is confident the board will make “good” disciplinary suggestions.

“Whether or not they’re implemented, I’m not so sure about that,” she said.

Staff Writer Kallie Cox contributed to this report.

This story was originally published May 14, 2022 10:06 AM.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.


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