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Charlotte police release body cam footage from in-custody death

State investigators and CMPD's own internal review found that officers responded appropriately when responding.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has shared footage from an officer's body-worn camera and provided a timeline of a shooting suspect's death while in custody.

In June 2022, officers responded to the reported shooting along Featherstone Drive in north Charlotte. Police said they found 32-year-old Jovontay Avery Williams and identified him as the suspect, but noted he was "behaving in an erratic manner". CMPD said Williams was yelling and appeared to be suffering a medical emergency.

The department said Williams was taken to a hospital for treatment. However, he passed away hours later. Because he was still in CMPD custody, his death was investigated by both CMPD's internal affairs division and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI).

On Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, the department released the body camera footage under court order, while also providing a timeline of events. 

The video can be viewed on CMPD's YouTube channel. Viewers are advised that while it is not graphic, it may be upsetting for some. Some vulgar language is used at one point as well.

The 45-minute video shows officers responding to the house where Williams was spotted at. Officers give him a set of commands, including telling Williams to raise his hands in the air. However, the officer quickly runs up to Williams as he remains facing away from them on the home's porch, not responding to them.

The officer clears Williams' hands as he is brought to the floor. As Williams is handcuffed, he doesn't appear responsive as another officer asks if he's hurt. Williams appears to be distressed but isn't coherent for much of the video.

Officers were able to learn his identity in the video, with one saying "Jovontay, man, we got the ambulance on the way for you". 

At one point, Williams is able to clearly ask to be let up, and later said he was "seeing double" and "feeling lightheaded". He also said he was "about to die" while using vulgar language.

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Paramedics arrive on the scene about 22 minutes into the video. CMPD had called for an ambulance about 11 minutes into the encounter as shown in the footage.

CMPD noted that its own internal review and the NCSBI review found no wrongdoing from the responding officers. The department noted the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office decided criminal charges were not appropriate.

As of publication, the department said a full medical examiner's report and toxicology results were still pending.

"I want to assure our citizens that after thoroughly reviewing the evidence in this case, I am confident that our officers performed their duties appropriately regarding the treatment of Mr. Williams which included seeking a higher level of medical care for him immediately when they realized he was experiencing a medical emergency," said CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings in a statement.


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