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CMPD officer's involuntary manslaughter trial starts

Officer Phillip Barker is accused of speeding, striking and killing a pedestrian.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The involuntary manslaughter trial for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Phillip Barker started Monday.

Barker is accused of striking and killing James Michael Short in 2017 as Short was crossing the street. Motions from the state and defense lawyers started around 9 a.m. followed by jury selection.

Police said Officer Barker was heading to a call driving with his lights and siren on when the incident happened. Barker struck the 28-year-old as he was crossing East Morehead Street at Euclid Avenue south of Uptown Charlotte. CMPD said Short was crossing the street when the light was red.

CMPD investigators said Barker was going nearly 100 mph in a 35-mph zone when the incident happened. Barker's lawyer Michael Greene said it does not matter what the charge is, his client is innocent.

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“The incident that occurred on the night in question was tragic but wasn't a crime,” Greene said when asked about a Mecklenburg County jury indicted Barker.

WCNC looked at CMPD's policy in 2017 after the incident and found "CMPD's policy does not specify how fast officers can and can't travel when responding to emergencies."

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Barker's attorney said there are a lot of other factors to consider including Short's actions before and during the incident.

“That’s a question for a judge or a jury to answer not the chief,” he said, referring to former CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney.

On Monday, attorneys questioned potential jurors. The jury pool was narrowed down out of dozens, as several were dismissed to health problems or scheduled conflicts. Jury selection will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. 

Contact Richard DeVayne at rdevayne@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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


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