A video of a confrontation between Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and an activist at the Moral Monday march in the Queen City this week is raising eyebrows about police actions. The activist was reportedly leaving leaflets on cars about voting rights when police placed him in handcuffs after they asked for his identification and tried to take his cell phone.
Ty Turner, a gay activist who also ran for the N.C. Senate this year, gave this account to ThinkProgress when he was released a few hours later:
“They said they would charge me for distributing literature... I asked [the policeman] for the ordinance number [being violated], because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”
CMPD spokesperson Jessica Wallin reportedly told qnotes that Turner was only detained. But in a video taken by another activist, one officer clearily says he's under arrest.
The city does have an ordinance against the distribution of handbills or other paper materials on vehicles. Some say it is rarely enforced..It's not a well-known ordinance in any case.
More disturbing is what allegedly happened after Turner was handcuffed and taken away in a police cruiser. Turner told ThinkProgress that he was never taken to the Mecklenburg County Jail. According to the report, “Instead of transporting Turner directly to the Mecklenburg County jail, which sits just a few blocks from Marshall Park, he said they took him first to an empty parking lot behind the highway. ‘They took me to three different spots other than the jail,’ he said. ‘They knew they were in the wrong.’”
A video of the incident doesn't show what happened prior to the confrontation but it does raise questions about whether the incident could have been handled better and tensions defused in a more productive manner. Initially, Turner calmly asks an onlooker to be a witness as he asks for the ordinance he is violating. But tensions soon escalate. Several other officers eventually appear on the scene, and one is heard saying the matter will be investigated.
Turner was released shortly after and issued a citation.
Judge for yourself whether the video below shows "a loose cannon." It does show something troubling though - a heated confrontation between police and a citizen over a minor incident that looks as if it could have been avoided.