Four Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers and one sergeant resigned following the drug overdose death of a Black man in custody. Harold Easter, 41, was taken into custody following a low-speed chase back in January. Easter ingested a large amount of crack cocaine before he was arrested, but the officers did not attempt to get him medical attention, which is department policy.
Instead, they transported Easter back to the police station for processing. They put him in an interview room and left him alone for more than 40 minutes. At one point, Easter fell out of his chair and started having seizures on the ground. It took more than five minutes for anybody to notice that he was in need of medical attention. Officers then called for a medic, and Easter was rushed to the hospital, where he died a few days later.
Following an investigation into Easter's death, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings recommended that all five officers involved should be terminated. He said that if they had followed protocol and provided medical attention to Easter before taking him to the police station, the situation may have turned out differently.
"It troubles me, even more, to know that had those officers followed policy and made better decisions, there may have been a different outcome," Jennings said. "If they had followed policy, we would have at the minimum given Harold Easter a chance."
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather III said that his office reviewed the case and determined he could not bring involuntary manslaughter charges against the officers because it would be impossible to prove that Easter would have survived if he received medical attention before he was taken into custody.
"If no criminal charges are filed, that does not mean the District Attorney's Office believes the matter was in all respects handled appropriately from an administrative or tactical viewpoint," Merriweather wrote. "It is simply a determination that there is not a reasonable likelihood of proving criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt unanimously to a jury."
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