After shooting Timothy Caraway several times over the past year, Pineville Police rushed to the bleeding and temporarily paralyzed suspect and ordered him to put up his hands.
Caraway, according to body camera video from one of the officers, told them he couldn’t comply because he couldn’t feel a thing. Then he repeatedly asked the officers the same question: Why was he shot?
“I just did what I was told to do. You all said let it go, ”Caraway said, screaming in pain. “I went to the ground. Why did you shoot me? … Please don’t let me die.
Carvi, then 23, survived. When he left the hospital, Pineville Police charged him with eight felonies, including four counts of assaulting a police officer for allegedly pointing his handgun at the four police officers who confronted him on February 1, 2020.
These charges were quickly dropped by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office for what one prosecutor described in a court file as insufficient evidence, particularly regarding Caraway’s intention. By this time, Caraway had spent a month in detention.
Now Caraway’s retrial, filed Thursday, turns the story of the shooting upside down with a series of explosive allegations against Pineville police:
That two officers shot Caraway while he was on his knees, following orders to put the gun he was carrying in the right pocket of his coat. This police continued to fire after the injured caraway lay helpless on the sidewalk.
The officers then conspired to justify what they had done by fabricating evidence to put Caraway in jail, according to the lawsuit.
Caraway’s attorney, Micheal Littlejohn of Charlotte, said his client found himself trapped in a “deadly game of ‘Simon Says'” in which armed police rushed behind him, gave him multiple orders and adversaries, then opened fire within seconds and kept firing until one of their colleagues yelled at them to stop.
The senior officer at the scene that day, Sgt. Nicholas French later told state investigators he did not shoot his gun because Caraway never raised or extended his handgun threateningly, according to the lawsuit. According to the complaint, a witness to the shooting also said that Caraway did nothing to trigger the use of lethal force by the police.
“The excessiveness of the police is unspeakable,” Littlejohn told the Observer on Friday. “My client did not commit any crime that day. Period. And that’s what happened. “
Caraway’s lawsuit, which was filed in Mecklenburg County, names the town of Pineville as well as police officers Adam Roberts, Jamon Griffin, Leslie Gladden and French.
Roberts and Griffin fired the shots. Griffin, a former Hickory police officer who had been in the Pineville Department for less than a month at the time of the shooting, pulled the trigger nine times, according to the complaint. Roberts fired three times, including the first shot that hit Caraway in the neck and knocked him face down, according to the lawsuit.
The griffin and the caraway are black. Gladden, French and Roberts are white.
The complaint accuses the city and the police of excessive force, abusive prosecutions, fabricating evidence and false arrests, among other allegations.
Pineville City Manager Ryan Spitzer referred requests for comment to city attorney Scott MacLatchie on Friday, who did not respond to an email from the watcher.
Police Chief Michael Hudgins did not respond to a phone call from Observer requesting an interview for this story. In March, when police released video of the shooting, Hudgins confirmed that Caraway initially raised his hands when confronted by his officers, according to WCNC.
The chief also told reporters it was “plausible” that police initially mistook Caraway’s cell phone for a handgun. He said his officers opened fire when Caraway reached into his pockets, where he was in fact carrying a gun.
Drop your gun
Caraway’s trial joins a list of other active civil complaints against police in which residents of the Charlotte area were shot – at least two fatally – in controversial circumstances involving firearms.
▪ Rubin Galindo’s widow claims in a trial 2019 that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police used “paramilitary tactics” by fatally shooting their longtime partner two years earlier. Galindo called the police that night, told them he wanted to surrender his handgun and was shot while walking through the door of his house with his arms raised and gun in hand. This case is due to be tried in September.
▪ In March 2019, Danquirs Franklin was fatally shot in a confrontation with police in the parking lot of a Burger King in West Charlotte as he appeared to lower his gun as ordered. Franklin’s mother then sued. A trial is scheduled for November.
The confrontation on North Polk Street in the small town of Pineville began with a phone call.
At around 10 a.m., a female driver called 911 to report that she had seen a black man with long dreadlocks and wearing a beige jacket pointing a gun as he walked along one of the main thoroughfares from the city.
According to the lawsuit, Caraway was walking up to Polk that morning to visit his grandmother, unaware that police were now flocking to him, several assault rifles charging as they approached.
Roberts, according to the complaint, arrived first. The other officers soon followed. Two had either turned off their body-worn cameras or did not activate them, an apparent violation of department policy, according to the lawsuit.
Roberts’ camera video shows the officer walking behind Caraway as other officers flank him. A series of shouted police orders sounded within seconds. Caraway briefly appears on or near its knees. What he does with his hands is unclear. Then the shooting begins.
Police flock to Caraway as he screams in pain, the video shows. As the police try to slow Caraway’s bleeding, one of the officers tells the injured man he shouldn’t have been looking for his pockets. Caraway said he was only following police orders.
State and federal laws allow police to use lethal force only if they reasonably perceive an imminent threat of death or serious injury to themselves, other officers or bystanders.
Phil stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University and frequent critic of police tactics, watched the video at the request of the Observer and said it was “inconclusive” that the police used excessive force .
In a statement accompanying the trial, Littlejohn said the Caraway shooting is another example of police deploying excessive violence against black citizens.
“Blacks in this country are well aware of the danger police stops pose to the lives of blacks,” he said.
“Sir. Caraway – victim of excessive force – is doing his best to cope with the incident and continues to receive treatment for the injuries he sustained.
Caraway sustained gunshot wounds to the shoulder, chest, wrist and at least one finger. Littlejohn said his client still had bullet fragments that he would carry for the rest of his life.