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'He was slurring his speech': Friend of pedestrian killed by CMPD officer in 2017 takes stand

Former CMPD Officer Phillip Barker's defense said the deadly crash, while tragic, was not a crime.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Prosecutors called several witnesses to the stand Friday for testimony in the involuntary manslaughter trial of a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who hit and killed a man on his way to a call in 2017

Phillip Barker was charged in connection with the death of James Short in July 2017. Barker had his lights and sirens on while driving up to 100 mph, investigators said. Short was illegally crossing the street, according to police; however, Barker was going nearly 100 mph in a 35 mph zone, records show.

Barker's attorney acknowledged his client hit and killed Short, but said the incident was not a criminal act. 

"The incident that occurred on the night in question was tragic but wasn't a crime," Michael Greene said.

John Jacik, one of Short's friends, was with him on the night of the deadly crash. Jacik testified that he and Short began drinking alcohol at a hotel around 4 p.m. on the day of the incident. 

"He was having trouble walking in a straight line," Jacik said. "He was slurring his speech but I could still converse with him."

Jacik told the jury he tried to "help" Short, saying he tried to get a charge for his phone so he could call Short's father. 

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He said he last saw Short outside of a bar in Dilworth. Hours later, he learned his friend was dead. 

Prosecutors also called CMPD Officer Steven Kelly, who was driving behind Barker when Short was killed. When asked about Barker's speed during the incident, Kelly said Barker was "driving a little faster" than he was. 

More body camera footage was shown to the jury during Friday's hearing, with prosecutors sharing video from Kelly's body camera. During the video, you can hear someone ask Barker, "Did you hit him?" It was around this time that Barker radioed for help. 

"Initially, he was talking on the radio just informing dispatch about the traffic accident that occurred at that intersection, requesting medical attention," Kelly testified. 

Barker's attorney said there are a lot of other factors to consider, including Short's actions before and during the incident. Short was crossing East Morehead Street at Euclid Avenue when the light was red, CMPD records show. 

When pressed by prosecutors about Barker's demeanor, Kelly said Barker was "concerned." 

Friday's testimony ended with Crime Scene Investigator, Shari Walton and attorneys showing several scene photos from the night of the incident.  

The trial will continue next week. As of Friday, the defense has yet to call any witnesses to testify. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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