CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Following the announcement Friday morning that four Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department officers and one sergeant would be cited for termination for the in-custody death of Harold Easter, CMPD released what they called a "sequence of events" beginning with Easter's initial January 23 traffic stop.
The document provided to WCNC Charlotte from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department does not include times or identities. CMPD themselves advised it's not truly a "timeline" but rather a "sequence."
At this time, WCNC Charlotte does not know what time, and for what duration, these events occurred. We cannot determine if this is a full sequence of events or if anything could have been omitted. However we felt it was important to share with the public what CMPD had released.
Video of some of these happenings will be released to the public on October 1st.
While the documentation does not identify which law enforcement officer is which, WCNC Charlotte does know the identities of the five cited for termination. They are:
Sgt. Nicolas Vincent, Officer Brentley Vinson, Officer Michael Benfield, Officer Michael Joseph and Officer Shon Sheffield had remained on administrative leave in the midst of an internal investigation.
- Sergeant Nicolas Vincent was hired on January 28, 2008, and was assigned to the Metro Division.
- Officer Brentley Vinson was hired on July 21, 2014, and was assigned to the Metro Division. Vinson is the same officer who shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in 2016. At the time, a review board concluded he had followed proper procedure and prosecutors cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing.
- Officer Michael Benfield was hired on October 27, 2014, and was assigned to the Metro Division.
- Officer Michael Joseph was hired on May 21, 2018, and was assigned to the Metro Division.
- Officer Shon Sheffield was hired on August 13, 2012, and was assigned to the Metro Division.
A criminal investigation into the death of Easter remains open by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office.
The five have the opportunity to appeal their citation for termination.
Sequence of events in the internal investigation into the in-custody death of Harold Easter
What follows is documentation provided by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The unedited sequence of events begins with the initial January 23 traffic stop of Harold Easter and concludes with the January 26 death of Easter.
Officer 1 attempts initial traffic stop of Easter’s vehicle
Officer 1 shuts off BWC
Officer 1 attempts traffic stop again and exits vehicle. Traffic stop occurred at Whisnant Street and Burton Street
Officer 1 observes Easter eating cocaine
“Don’t eat it!”
“He’s eating it!”
Officer 2 arrives at the scene
Officer 2 walks over to Officer 1. Officer 1 tells him that he was crushing up the crack when he was stopped
Officer 2 gets evidence envelopes out and begins assisting Officer 1 with the collection of the evidence
Officer 1 places Easter under arrest
Officer 1 spontaneously utters “He was crushing up his crack but he didn’t eat it all.”
Officer 1 turns custody of Easter over to Officer 3
Officer 1 begins the process of collecting and cataloging the drugs in the vehicle
(COLLECTED A TOTAL OF .3 G OF COCAINE FROM THE VEHICLE)
Officer 3 takes custody of Easter from Officer 1
Officer 3 searched Easter at the rear of the marked police vehicle
Officer 4 approaches Officer 1 and says “I mean, he ate whatever he had (referring to Easter). Officer 1 says “no, he didn’t get all of it…when I was fighting him, he was crushing part of it...we probably got an 8 ball right there (pointing to the driver’s floorboard area).
Officer 4 walks away and goes over and searches one of the passengers in the vehicle
Officer 4 has no other interaction with Easter
Officer 3 “You have crack all over your tongue.”
Officer 3 to Officer 5 “He has crack all over his tongue.” Officer 5 “Yeah, he was trying to eat it.”
Officer 5 to Easter “Lips going numb, ain’t they brother?” and walks away
Officer 3 puts Officer 5 in the rear of the police vehicle
Officer 4 turns off his BWC
Officer 5 sits in the marked car in the passenger seat and is working on the computer. The following is conversation with Easter:
E: I’m dehydrated officer
O5: Bro, you’ve got cocaine on your tongue…it’s gonna happen when you try to eat cocaine.
E: It is what it is
O5: I can’t give you anything to drink
E: Why, so I die of dehydration?
O5: You’re not gonna die of dehydration
Officer 5 calls in traffic stop over the radio at Whisnant Street and Burton Street
Four additional Metro Division officers arrive at the scene and provide scene security. None of the officers have any contact or interaction with Mr. Easter
Officer 3 turns off his BWC
Officer 2 goes over to the marked police vehicle and has the following conversation:
O2: You’re gonna stop yelling
E: Please don’t make me pee on myself
O2: That’s not my problem
E: Can I get some water, I’m dehydrated and I gotta pee
O2: Why would water help you with your pee situation?
E: I’m dehydrated cause…I ain’t gonna lie to you…I tried to swallow the weed and a little bit of the rocks cause I was gonna smoke a fly and my mouth is dry and I’m getting dehydrated Sarg.
O2: Ok, well, when we are through with this we will go take you to use the restroom
E: Sarg can you let me piss right here?
O2: No, you cannot
E: In the woods?
E: I’m gonna pee on myself
O2: Than we can get you in a jumpsuit
Officer 2 walks away from Easter
Officer 1 is driving. Officer 5 is in the front passenger seat. They leave the scene and drive to the Metro Division Team office
Officer 2 turns off BWC
Officer 1 arrives at the Metro Division team office
Officer 1 is walking Easter into the team office. Easter says to Officer 1 “you know cause I swallowed some you ain’t let me get water.”
Officer 1 clears the bathroom. Turns off BWC for strip search
Officer 5 turns off his BWC
At the conclusion of the strip search, Officer 1 turns on BWC and clears the bathroom. Officer 1 shuts off BWC
Officer 5 walks Easter into interview room
Easter is shackled to the floor with leg shackles
Officer 5 tells Easter “in 5 minutes I’m gonna come back and get you.” Easter says “are you sure?” Officer 5 says “yeah.”
Officer 5 leaves the interview room
Easter spontaneously shouts “everyone who with me knows we smoke rocks…that’s what we do.”
Easter shouts “Can I please get some water Sarg?”
Easter asks ‘Sir Can I please get some water?”
Officer 4 opens the door and speaks with Easter. Conversation was indecipherable
Officer 4 returns and asks if Easter wants water or use the bathroom
Officer 4 returns with a cup of water and gives it to Easter
An Officer is walking by and opens the door. Easter says ‘Are you the Sarg?” Where is the Sarg at?”
Easter begins knocking on the table. Says “Can I get some water? Please?”
Easter is standing up and begins to shake
Easter says “You think I’m gonna die. But I’m not. Ya’all gonna die. But I’m not.”
Easter begins clawing at the table
Easter collapses face down on the table and is bent over at the waist
Easter falls off the table and has a seizure on the floor
Officer 2 opens the door, sees Easter on the floor and yells out to ‘Get MEDIC, Get MEDIC”
Officer 1 turns on his BWC as he and Officer 2 run down the hall
Officer takes the leg shackle off
Easter is moved from the interview room to the hallway
Unknown Officer asks about an AED. Unknown Officer says, “yeah, it is not working.”
Officer 1 begins CPR chest compressions
During this time, Officer 2 administers two doses of Narcan
CFD asks about circumstances and Officer 1 says “We stopped him for suspected drugs and he tried eating it when we walked up to the car but we stopped him from eating it. We didn’t think anything was wrong.”
Officer 1 turns off his BWC
Email sent out to Media Release with initial background information
All 5 Officer’s placed on administrative leave with pay
Easter passes away at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center
Email sent out to Media Release advising Easter passed away