Charlotte City Councilman 'furious' over 20 accused murderers not in jail
Police chief has criticized judges' reliance on controversial ankle bracelets, which tracks accusers but do not prevent future crimes.
Author: Nathan Morabito
Published: 11:10 PM EDT July 17, 2019
Updated: 12:59 PM EDT July 18, 2019
INVESTIGATORS 3 Articles

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than 20 accused murderers were wearing ankle bracelets on a single day earlier this month as part of Charlotte's electronic monitoring program, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department record obtained by the NBC Charlotte Defenders investigation team.

In recent weeks, the Charlotte police chief has criticized judges' reliance on the controversial electronic monitoring devices, especially for violent, repeat offenders.

RELATED: Man wearing ankle bracelet following 63 prior arrests, is arrested again, this time for attacking police officers

Police records identify more than two dozen people accused of killing, or trying to kill others, who have been allowed to wear ankle bracelets leading up to their trials.

"It makes me furious to hear that stat," Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari said after reviewing numbers presented to him by NBC Charlotte. "It's just unacceptable and we should no longer accept anymore this broken criminal justice system that we have."

EXPLORE

Charlotte City Councilman 'furious' over 20 accused murderers not in jail

INVESTIGATORS
Chapter 1

The Records

Who is being tracked?

On just a single day last week, NBC Charlotte discovered 400 people accused of crimes are currently out of jail, awaiting their court date, and being tracked by GPS monitor. 

The records showed 22 defendants charged with murder, two charged with attempted murder, and two charged with voluntary manslaughter were being monitored by an ankle bracelet. Another 60 people were charged with burglary,  60 accused of assault, 34 with gun charges, and 12 accused of sex crimes, according to the CMPD records. Those numbers do not include the more than 100 facing robbery charges.

Chapter 2

Police chief unhappy

"There's no accountability"

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney has said the court's reliance on ankle bracelets have contributed to the growing violence in Charlotte.

"There's no accountability," he said last month in an interview with WCNC. "If all you have is a monitor, at least I can tell you were there, so it's easier for us to build a case. It does not prevent you from continuing your criminality. That's our issue."

READ MORE: Chief Putney criticized the court system for releasing those accused of violent crimes

In 2019, at least 15 people have committed new crimes while wearing ankle bracelets, according to CMPD records. In some cases, the suspect cut off their electronic monitoring devices before committing the new crime. 

The number of homicides in Charlotte rose to 63 earlier this month after the shooting death of Darnell Harris at a Steak 'n Shake in south Charlotte. In all of 2018, Charlotte had 58 homicides, 5 less than the number of homicides seen in just over the first half of this year.

READ MORE: One dead, another injured after shooting at Steak 'n Shake in south Charlotte

Chapter 3

The courts respond

"Release conditions are set based on the facts"

As the criticism about ankle monitors mounts, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Robert Bell told NBC Charlotte each release decision is based on the facts of the case and an assessment that determines the likelihood of that person committing a new crime or failing to show up to court.

"As you know, a Superior Court Judge cannot comment on the specifics of any pending case," Judge Bell said in a statement. "Each of those 26 people made a bond and as a condition of the release were also placed on electronic monitoring. Some of those are on 24-hour house arrest while others are allowed to work if they have provided proof of a job and a work schedule. Release conditions are set based on the facts of each individual case as presented in court and with input from the pretrial assessment tool."