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Monday, December 12, 2016

Lunch Break (12/12/16): Vi Lyles announces consideration of mayoral campaign; stabbing death in south Charlotte

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM


Charlotte City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles is looking to take that "pro tem" out of her title, as she announced this morning via social media that she is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for mayor in 2017. Lyles announced her intentions in two tweets this morning, one of which was attached to a Facebook link that looked as if it would go into further detail, although the link is no longer working.

Following her work in the city's budget department, including a stint as budget director, Lyles served as Charlotte's assistant city manager from 1996 - 2004. She was elected to city council in 2013 and is serving her second term. She was selected by the council to serve as mayor pro tem in 2015.

Organizations Lyles has been involved with include the Charlotte Housing Authority Moving Forward initiative, the Committee of 21 transportation initiative and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg African American Agenda and Achieve Together community-based advocacy education initiative. She also she served as the project manager for the Foundation for the Carolinas' initiative to conduct research supporting the creation of a local rental subsidy endowment for families and veterans.

Lyles was one of seven council members to vote in favor of the controversial I-77 toll lanes in January, and her role as the council's representative in the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization have led to the perception by some that she is more heavily involved in the decision than others on the council. It's unclear whether this will be an issue for her in her campaign.

As of now, it appears Lyles will be running against incumbent Jennifer Roberts, who announced her intentions to run for reelection last week, and N.C. Sen. Joel Ford, who formed an exploratory committee to look into running for mayor last week as well.

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Police are investigating a homicide that happened in south Charlotte this morning. Officers responded to an assault call on Archdale Drive at around 4:38 a.m. this morning and found a man suffering from apparent stab wounds. He was transported to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Police have not released the name of the victim, but do believe he is known to the suspect.

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A man was killed after being struck by a car in southeast Charlotte just before midnight last night. Police say Robert Melton, 48, was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk and wearing dark clothing when he was struck by 38-year-old Daniel Wayne, who was driving a Nissan Altima. The accident happened on E. Independence Boulevard at the intersection of Village Lake Drive. It does not appear any charges will be filed against Wayne, who remained on the scene of the accident and was not impaired by drugs or alcohol.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Today's Top 5: Sunday

Posted By on Sun, Dec 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM


Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Dec. 11, 2016 as selected by us folks at Creative Loafing.

Starving Artist Market at Charlotte Art League
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Copeland Now/Then Tour w/ Rae Cassidy at Neighborhood Theatre

Jazz Workshop and Improv feat. John Shaughnessy at Petra's

Kane Brown at The Fillmore

Omari & The Hellraisers at Comet Grill

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Today's Top 5: Saturday

Posted By on Sat, Dec 10, 2016 at 10:00 AM


Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Dec. 10, 2016 as selected by us folks at Creative Loafing.

NoDa Krampus Krawl at North Davidson and 36th streets

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Kate Voegele & Tyler Hilton at Double Door Inn

Deck the Walls: A Holiday Photography Sale at Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy

Rippin' Weekend at Snug Harbor

Girl Tribe Pop-Up at Sugar Creek Brewing Co.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Today's Top 5: Friday

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 1:49 PM


Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Dec. 9, 2016 as selected by us folks at Creative Loafing.

Clara's Trip: A Cirque & Dance Nutcracker Story at Booth Playhouse

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Charlotte Symphony's Magic of Christmas at Belk Theater

Rippin' Weekend at Snug Harbor

Rippin' Weekend at Petra's

Southern Culture on the Skids w/ Wooly Bushmen and Aqualads at Wet Willies

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Today's Top 5: Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 3:53 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Dec. 8, 2016 as selected by us folks at Creative Loafing.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Spectrum Center

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Pothead Party at Mama's Caribbean Grill

Shiprocked at Snug Harbors

Holly & Tinsel at Armour Street Theatre in Davidson

Improv Comedy 101 at Wet Willies


VIDEO: House of Cards creator hosts "We're Listening" event

Residents gather at Neighborhood Theatre to discuss ways forward

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 11:59 AM

A top Hollywood screenwriter and nearly 200 Charlotte-area residents convened at the Neighborhood Theatre Wednesday night to talk about concrete ways each local citizen can get involved in making the city a better, more inclusive place to live.


The event, “We’re Listening: A Community Discussion to Activate Causes We Care About,” was one of a series of meetups that Beau Willimon, creator of the Netflix political drama House of Cards, is holding in cities across the country. At the two-hour Charlotte meetup, Willimon – together with his Action Group Network co-creator Ivey Baker and co-host Stephen Graddick — encouraged audience members to stand and talk about issues that are important to them. Those issues ranged from women’s reproductive rights to environmental responsibility to forging relations among people of different races, religions, gender identity, or political views.


In the second hour, the audience split into smaller groups of people with similar passions — and made plans to begin meeting regularly to come up with concrete actions.

Williman, a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during the presidential election, was inspired to launch the Action Group Network in the wake of the wildly different feelings aroused by Donald Trump's win. Willimon's idea was to encourage people to move beyond complaining on social media and actually begin organizing groups that can effect change. He plans to take his meetups to major cities in all 50 states.

“We do not aim to dictate the agenda of any group,” AGN’s mission statement reads. “Each action group will work independently. They neither speak for nor act in the name of any other group or organization, including the Action Group Network.

“We do ascribe, however, to the principles of inclusivity and respect,” the statement continues. “Any group or individual which engages in communication or actions we deem to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or in any way bigoted or aggressive, will not be welcome here.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lunch Break (12/5/16): KKK rally moved due to counter protests; Dakota Access Pipeline construction halted

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 11:45 AM


Hundreds of people showed up to two marches in North Carolina and Virginia this weekend to protest planned KKK rallies, which were eventually moved. CL contributor Lara Americo traveled to Pelham, North Carolina and Danville, Virginia on Saturday to cover the protests. Her video can be seen below. The KKK rally was eventually moved an hour away to Roxboro, as Burlington Times-News reporter Natalie Janicello tweeted a video of a convoy of cars waving Confederate and white supremacy flags, with one person yelling, "White power."


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News that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be halting construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline due to the denial of the final easement that would allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe was met with cheers and fireworks at the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota yesterday.

Desiree Kane, a former Creative Loafing staffer who has been living in the camp for the past six months, wrote a cautiously optimistic post on Facebook celebrating the decision this morning, but reminding friends that the people building the wall still may attempt to continue construction without the necessary permits and that the fight is not over.

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A woman has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle following a car wreck in north Charlotte on Saturday that took the life of her passenger. Police say 37-year-old Stephanie Bennett was driving on Gibbon Road at around 4:41 p.m. on Saturday when she went off the road, then overcorrected, causing the car to eventually crash off the right side of the road. Leonilla Farber, 64, was sitting in the front passenger seat and was killed during the wreck. Police do not believe speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.
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BREAKING: Governor Pat McCrory has conceded the gubernatorial election to Roy Cooper. The responses to the tweet in which he did so are pretty priceless.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Today's Top 5: Friday

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Dec. 2, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at Neighborhood Theatre
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OTC Improv at Fort Mill Community Playhouse

Sinners & Saints, Rinaldi Flying Circus, Carolina Gator Gumbo at Petra's

All Arts Market at Behailu Academy

Jarekus Singleton Band at Double Door Inn



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Today's Top 5: Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 2:55 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Dec. 1, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Sharon Dowell Studio Sale at C3 Lab
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Holly & Tinsel at Armour Street Theatre

Elise Davis with The Black Lillies and Radio Birds at Visulite Theatre

Maggie Anderson, author of Our Black Year at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

Chocolate and Wine – That’s Amore! at The Secret Chocolatier

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

District attorney lays out case in decision to not charge officer in Scott shooting

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 6:08 PM

Following a press conference this morning in which District Attorney Andrew Murray announced that no charges would be brought against CMPD officer Brentley Vinson for shooting and killing Keith Scott in September, Murray released a 22-page report laying out his case for why his team of prosecutors does not believe Vinson acted criminally.

The report is broken into four parts: an overview of officer-involved shootings including legal standards and the district attorney's role in investigating them; a look at the Scott shooting itself that includes analysis of testimonies from officers on the scene and civilian witnesses, some of whom were said to later recant key claims; a closer legal analysis of why prosecutors do not believe Scott’s shooting was a criminal act; and a concluding statement from Murray that addresses the unrest seen in Charlotte following the shooting, among other things.

The following is a breakdown of the report, which can be read in its entirety here.


Part I: Overview of officer-involved shootings

This section begins by going over the role of a district attorney’s office in an officer-involved shooting, pointing out that a DA does not usually review cases in which police choose not to press charges. However, following an officer-involved shooting, the DA’s office does review all related files of the agency that carried out the investigation, in this case the State Bureau of Investigations.

The report emphasizes that today’s announcement is simply the result of the DA’s office deciding that prosecutors believe there is “not a reasonable likelihood of proving criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt unanimously to a jury.”

A DA’s office stating that a shooting was not criminal does not mean prosecutors necessarily believe the shooting was not avoidable or that police followed proper protocol. This is important in that the CMPD and/or Brinson could still be vulnerable to a civil suit on those grounds. Representatives of the Scott family said at a press conference today they are still considering a civil suit.

The report then goes into detail about the legal standards regarding officer-involved shootings, explaining that a police officer has the same rights to self-protection that a civilian does. The report cites legal cases, including a Supreme Court case ruling that “[t]he ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

These legal standards are discussed in further detail and in direct relation to the Scott shooting in Part III.

Part II: The Scott shooting

Much of this part of the report goes over step-by-step findings of how investigators say the Scott shooting unfolded, much of which has been reported already. It states that officers doing surveillance in an unrelated case saw Scott rolling a marijuana blunt in his car and were going to ignore him until they then saw him holding a gun, at which time they attempted to arrest him.

A still from body-cam footage of an officer on the scene was Scott was killed.
  • A still from body-cam footage of an officer on the scene was Scott was killed.
The report quotes officers as describing Scott at the time he exited his car as “having a ‘blank stare,’ being ‘in a trance like state,’ and looking ‘like he just wasn’t there.’” These are all behaviors consistent with side effects of the drug Scott was prescribed to since suffering a traumatic brain injury in November 2015.

Vinson said it was then that he felt an imminent threat and shot Scott four times, stating, “I felt like if I didn’t do anything right then at that point it’s like he...he was gonna shoot me or he’s gonna shoot one a [sic] my buddies, um, and it was gonna happen right now.”

Scott did not raise his weapon at officers at any time during the incident, the implications of which are discussed in more detail in Part III.

The report then goes into detail about the overwhelming evidence that prosecutors say proves that Scott did, in fact, have a gun at the time of the incident, a fact that’s been debated by many who did not believe the CMPD’s original version of events. The report cites evidence from the scene, eyewitness accounts and statements from the man they say sold Scott the gun on September 2, less than three weeks before Scott was shot.

The report then analyzes eyewitness statements, painting a picture of a chaotic time following the shooting in which witnesses made statements to police and media that were later recanted, either by witnesses admitting to embellishing statements in the hours or days directly following the shooting or admitting to not actually being there as they originally claimed.

For example, directly following the shooting, Tahesia Williams reportedly told media that she watched Scott exit his vehicle and saw a book fall from his lap. She said he raised his arms and asked what he did wrong before being shot by a white police officer, claiming that Vinson, who is black, arrived later.

According to the report released today, three days after the shooting Williams admitted that she did not see the shooting and that she was actually sitting on the couch watching television with the volume up loud at the time the shooting happened. She reportedly told officers that she did not see a book when she came outside to the scene of the shooting after the fact.

The report cited a handful of other examples in which eyewitnesses made similar statements to police or media that were either found to be inconsistent with proven facts or recanted by the witness.

This part of the report concludes with a statement that after 63 agents from across the state spent 2,300 hours on their investigation, the SBI found no evidence that there was a book on scene or that any evidence, such as a gun, was planted.

Part III: Legal analysis

Much of this part of the report goes into an aspect that has been hardest to swallow for many who have watched video of Scott’s shooting in footage taken by police and Scott’s wife: whether he truly presented a threat to any of the officers’ lives that day.

The report cites two studies on reaction time that they say prove that Scott could have hypothetically raised his gun and shot at an officer before that officer or one of his fellow officers could have reacted, despite the fact that officers were already pointing guns at Scott. The report, however, also admits that there is no way of knowing what Scott’s intentions were that day.

The report quotes John C. Hall, former unit chief of the FBI’s Firearms Training Unit, as saying, “Simply expressed, an action will always occur before an appropriate reaction can be initiated and implemented. Action always beats reaction … The practical effect in the field of deadly force usage is that no law enforcement officer is required to wait or can be expected to wait until he is absolutely certain what it is that a subject is going to do, or has in his hand.”

Part IV: Murray’s conclusion

Protesters at CMPD headquarters in the days following Scott's shooting.
  • Protesters at CMPD headquarters in the days following Scott's shooting.
Andrew Murray’s concluding statement is a thoughtful one; an important human response after 20 pages of data and analysis of an incident that ended in a man’s life being lost. Murray reflects on the loss the Scott family has experienced while also looking at the bigger implications the Scott shooting had for Charlotte. He acknowledged a city in which inequality has acted as a breeding ground for the unrest the city saw after Scott’s killing.

The statement should be read in full, but I’ll pull a paragraph to quote here:

“In the days that followed Mr. Scott’s death, we watched as long-simmering frustrations boiled over. I heard observers say, ‘This is not Charlotte’ or ‘This is not the city that we love.’ But it is. This is Charlotte. This is where our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues felt so passionate that they marched on our streets to call for change. Let me be clear: I have not and will not condone violence or property damage as a means of expression. But the fact that criminal charges are not appropriate under the law in this particular case does not mean we can dismiss the concerns expressed by those who raised their voices to raise the consciousness of this community. I think it is time that all of us recognize that this is Charlotte, and not everyone experiences the same Charlotte.”

As with the original shooting, people have reacted in different ways throughout the city and country to today’s announcement. While some have expressed feeling a sense of closure, others have voiced their discontent with what they see as another refusal to hold police accountable.

As I send this to print, I am preparing to report on marches planned throughout the city by those who do not agree with today’s decision. Creative Loafing will continue to update readers on the community’s reaction.

One thing remains clear, hours after Murray’s press conference and more than two months after Scott’s shooting, it’s still far too early to tell the long-term effects the Scott shooting — and the reaction to it — will have on our city.

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