Leaders vow transparency in fatal police shooting

Leaders vow transparency in fatal police shooting
April 05
05:00 2018

The community and the family of a black man fatally wounded by a Winston-Salem police officer wait for answers.

Those who know Edward Van McCrae describe him as a loving and caring father, grandfather, and brother. Although her father did have a criminal past, in a social media post Kimneika McCrae wrote: “No one’s past should define the present or the future.”

She continued, “If there are any findings of wrong doings by the Winston-Salem Police Department, my family and I will seek justice for my father.”

The NAACP, the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) and several elected officials held a press conference on Monday, April 2, promising transparency following the fatal police involved shooting of 60-year-old Edward Van McCrae. 

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Winston-Salem Police Department Chief Catrina Thompson echoed what other leaders had been saying. She read the release on the incident and asked for prayers for the families of both McCrae and Officer McGuire.

“As your chief of police, I am asking for patience in allowing this investigation to take place,” said Thompson. “The Winston-Salem Police Department is cooperating fully with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation as well as our District Attorney’s Office. It is our promise that we will be totally transparent and continue to be cooperative during this investigative process. Again, I am asking for peace, calm and patience. Winston-Salem is a great community, we’re not like many other communities across the country. We work together and strive to do what’s right all the time.”

Here’s what we know from the police report of the incident: at 10:34 p.m. on Friday, March 30, while patrolling the 2000 block of Bowen Boulevard, Officer D.E. McGuire stopped a vehicle that was occupied by two men and a women for undisclosed reasons. According to a police report, Officer McGuire saw McCrae making suspicious movements in the back seat of the car and told him to stop multiple times. After calling for backup, Officer McGuire ordered McCrae out of the vehicle, then a physical altercation ensued. 

While struggling to apprehend McCrae, Officer McGuire saw a hand gun and told McCrae to “stop reaching” for it multiple times. As Officer McGuire continued to struggle with McCrae, he shot McCrae, and paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene. 

Although Officer McGuire was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident state law H.B. 972 requires a petition to a superior court judge before footage can be released.

After reading the police report aloud, Council Member James Taylor Jr., chairman of the Public Safety Committee, offered his condolences to McCrae’s family and friends. Taylor, who also is the publisher of The Chronicle, said this is a tough time for our community but he believes this is something the city will overcome.

“We have rallied before in situations like this and I believe this is something that we can get through once the facts do come out,” Taylor continued. “…It is incumbent upon the police department, upon the D.A.’s office to release that footage as soon, as quickly, as expeditiously as possible so we can ensure that the public continues to trust the police department and that there is transparency on all sides.”

Bishop Todd Fulton, chairman of the MCWSV’s Social Justice Committee, called for transparency as well. Fulton, who has a track record of holding the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) accountable, said he felt confidence in the police department. 

“In the past, we have not always had a very transparent working relationship with the Winston-Salem Police Department, but I’m grateful to say that today I feel confident that we do have it.” Fulton said. “We are confident in our elected officials and we are confident in our police chief.” 

When speaking to members of the community, who are outraged that yet another black man has been shot and killed while in police custody, Fulton encouraged residents to remain calm and wait on the facts. He said,” if you want to march, it’s your right to have freedom of speech.

“We’re asking that you march, hold your signs ups but get permits and do things in decency and order,” he continued. “…We will not riot. We will not destroy our city and our community. We will come together as civilized people.”

Fulton went on to say that he has met with Police Chief Catrina Thompson, and District Attorney Jim O’Neil and both have promised to be open and transparent. 

Following the shooting, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation assumed the “primary investigators” role. When asked about the timetable of SBI’s investigation and the release of the body camera footage, Mayor Allen Joines said, “It’s hard to say.”

“With the most recent situation about two years ago, it took a matter of several months before the results came back,” Joines said. “The body cam, of course, has to come with all the information. Toxicology report and things of that nature can sometimes take weeks or months.” 

The case Joines was referring to  actually happened three years ago and involved Officer Austin Conrad and Travis Page. 

After responding to a “shots fired” call on Old Rural Hall Road, Officer Conrad approached Page, who started to run and fell while trying to get away. While Conrad and other officers attempted to subdue Page, he became unresponsive and later died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. 

An autopsy revealed that Page was morbidly obese, suffered from an enlarge heart and had an irregular heart beat and a enlarged liver. The medical examiner determined that there was no evidence of spinal injuries or damage to the skull or brain. 

Chronicle reporter Todd Luck contributed to this report.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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