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Going Too Far? 

Eastside residents talk after 16-year-old is killed by police

The first thing 19-year-old Dante Easton thinks when he sees blue and whites coming his way -- "I didn't do it."

It can be anything, Easton says. From witnessing a crime to being an active participant in one.

Hanging out at Eastland Mall Monday afternoon, just a day after Charlotte Mecklenburg Police shot and killed a 16-year-old named LaQuan Brown on Nov. 4 at the Casa De Largo apartment complex off Albemarle Road, Easton says he doesn't feel uncomfortable around the police.

But some young men -- who live in East Charlotte where officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark were shot and killed over the summer -- believe the police can go a little overboard when patrolling the area.

Rick Blakeney, 21, who lives off Albemarle Road, says when he was recently pulled over by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, the officers weren't nasty, but there were three squad cars on the scene.

"With all of those cars, it was a little overboard," he says.

Kevin, 28, who declined to give his last name, says he thinks CMPD has gone overboard since the shootings of Sheldon and Clark.

"They come up here and they overreact," Kevin says, as he stood outside of the Citgo gas station at the corner of Albemarle Road and East W.T. Harris Boulevard. "They walk up [asking] to see your hands for nothing. They put people against the walls -- for nothing."

Kevin says he doesn't have anything against the police and he understands that they have a job to do, but he says it isn't like New York where he grew up.

"The police used to walk around and get out the car and talk to you. Here, the only way a cop is going to know your name is if you get arrested a lot," he says.

Though he didn't say if he'd been arrested or not, Kevin was stopped a month ago for a speeding violation and three officers approached his car.

"Incidents like that," he says, "are going to cause more distrust among the minorities in East Charlotte and the police."

"They're going to run quicker," he says. "Even if you're not doing something wrong, just like [Brown]. They said they don't know what he was doing over there."

Details into what happened on Nov. 4 are still developing and police and the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office aren't releasing much information. According to CMPD's spokeswoman Julie Hill, it's still early in the case but police are working on it. And the DA's office said last week that it could be a while before it is determined if charges are filed against the officers.

According to CMPD, it's still early in the investigation and detectives are still interviewing witnesses. The preliminary findings are:

• Officers responded to a call for service about a robbery in progress that came in at 1:15 a.m. on Nov. 4.

• The caller indicated a group of Hispanic males was attempting to rob an individual in the parking lot of the apartment complex.

• While driving through the parking lot, officers observed a black male near some apartments who immediately began running in the opposite direction when he saw the officers.

• A witness reports hearing the officers giving verbal commands for the suspect to stop.

• The officers pursued the suspect and one of the officers observed he had a gun in his hand.

• One of the officers saw the suspect raise his hand and the officer fired his service weapon twice.

• A gun was recovered from the scene.

The two officers involved in the shooting, Brian Carey, 33, and Jeffrey Wheaton, 27, have been placed on administrative leave. Officer Carey was hired Dec. 2, 1998 and Officer Wheaton was hired July 31, 2002. Both are assigned to the Eastway Division.

Brown's mother, Melissa, who had spoke to various media outlets in the days after her son's death, said that she has nothing more to say on the matter.

"Y'all can print what you want to print," she said angrily when contacted by Creative Loafing.

Brown had an outstanding warrant for larceny of a motor vehicle at the time of his death, and he had been arrested on the same charge in August.

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