Breaking News
More () »

Charlotte's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Charlotte, North Carolina | WCNC.com

CMPD officers who resigned over Harold Easter's death can be hired as officers elsewhere

The four Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department officers, and one sergeant, voluntarily resigned before being formally terminated in the death of Harold Easter.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The four former Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department officers and one sergeant who neglected to help Harold Easter as he feared he would die from swallowing cocaine, and who only stepped in roughly 13 minutes after Easter started to convulse, could all possibly be hired at another police department.

At a press conference on Thursday, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said the concern was out of his control.

"I don't have control over telling an agency not to hire one of these former officers," he said. "Any department that is seeking these officers for employment, will come to us and ask for personnel records and this will be reflected in their personnel records."

All five former law enforcement officers were recommended for termination by Chief Jennings.

The Civil Service Board, which oversees hiring and firing for CMPD, was going to hold a hearing and decide their fate. However, all of them resigned before that took place. Legally, nothing stops them from doing so.

RELATED: All five CMPD officers cited for termination for in-custody death of Harold Easter have resigned

"Anyone and everyone that has a position of trust to the public, should be held accountable," said State Representative Chaz Beasley, who represents district 92 in Mecklenburg County.

He said departments having the need to request previous personnel information from other departments isn't enough. 

He offered a bill that would've created a statewide database for law enforcement agencies to share employee history information.

"If you've already had an opportunity to protect and serve, and you messed that opportunity up, then wherever you go next -- they should know," Beasley said. 

The amendment stalled in Raleigh. Beasley still wants change and says just because officers resign, doesn't mean the firing process should end.

"If you decide that you're going to quit because you were cited for termination, the process is going to continue, the board is going to make a determination and that determination is going to be noted," he explained. 

The former CMPD officers will still get paid their pension, per Chief Jennings. 

Those officers are:

  • 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 also the officer who shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in 2016, prompting protests across Charlotte. A review board concluded he 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.

Chief Johnny Jennings says he is not aware of any officers who have been hired at CMPD after resigning from other departments.