Body cam video released in controversial arrests of Charlotte couple by CMPD officers

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police released multiple body cam videos Tuesday that show the moments before, during, and after controversial arrests that occurred on Nov. 13, 2023, near South Tryon and West Arrowood Road.

All 11 Charlotte City Council members viewed the police body camera, dash camera, transport, and interview videos related to 24-year-old Christina Pierre’s arrest on Monday, Dec. 11.

CMPD released more than 30 videos on Tuesday, Dec. 12, in connection to the two arrests.

Police said Pierre and her fiancé Anthony Lee had just finished their shift at a nearby Bojangles. The couple sat on the bus stop bench, smoking what police said was marijuana. When police driving through the area smelled the odor, they initiated contact with Pierre and Lee.

The newly released footage shows CMPD officers trying to arrest Lee first, and that’s when Pierre steps in and tries to stop them. The interaction escalated, and the new footage shows Pierre striking a CMPD officer before the officer punches Pierre in the face.

Watch more released footage by CMPD below:

A viral video circulating online showed four CMPD officers holding Pierre on the ground while CMPD Officer Vincent Pistone struck her 17 times in the thigh.

In a November 15 interview, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said the video shows compliance strikes, a trained police technique.

“The public is going to say that was excessive. I understand, and I get that,” CMPD Chief Jennings said. “At the same time, we want to see: how are we training? When do we say, ‘Hey, we have to move to something else similar to what we did with the taser?’”

Chief Jennings created a Police Community Collaboration Group to review policies regarding marijuana enforcement, compliance strategies, and de-escalation, which Charlotte City Council at Large representative Victoria Watlington said is a step in the right direction.

“As we start to talk about compliance strikes, and how many officers does it really take? What constitutes necessary force? Those are the things we’ve got to take a look at. I’m open to re-evaluating those things,” Watlington said.

Watlington has been a part of the civil service board, which evaluates new fire and police applicants in Charlotte. Within the last week, CMPD leaders defended the department’s hiring practices after former employees who administered the polygraph tests to new recruits claimed the department was hiring unqualified officers to fill massive voids.

“I will say that it was never about lowering standards, it was about casting a wider net,” Watlington said.

Recruitment and diversity have been a part of the conversation about Pierre’s arrest because the video shows five white male officers on top of a black woman.

“Anytime you see a video like that, it shocks the public consciousness,” Watlington said. “Looking at it, I certainly felt like, wow, this seems totally egregious in this way, but again, I will wait to see the full context of the video, but it feels like there’s something we can do there.”

An attorney representing Pierre said she plans to file a civil suit on behalf of her client against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

According to CMPD, the cigarette they were smoking was homemade and tested positive for marijuana. Officers said they also found a bag of marijuana on the couple.

CMPD said Lee also had a loaded handgun in his possession. Officer Pistone has been reassigned and all charges against Pierre and Lee have been dropped by the DA.

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