CMPD officer shoots, kills west Charlotte man during scuffle
Tina Laney, foreground, the mother of Michael Laney, the 28-year-old man who was shot and killed Monday night by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, said the officer was not justified in killing her son. Police said Michael Laney had a gun and died while struggling with arresting officers. Immediately behind Tina Laney is Frederick Laney, who said he was Michael Laney's cousin. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins for Qcitymetro.com)
A 28-year-old man was shot and killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Monday night during a struggle on the porch of the man’s west Charlotte home.
Police and relatives identified the dead man as Michael Deangelo Laney.
The shooting sparked tension in the neighborhood surrounding Crestview Drive, just off Beatties Ford Roads, where the death occurred, with some family members and residents alleging that officers used excessive force.
The incident began shortly after 11 p.m. when officers spotted Laney driving a red scooter on Beatties Ford Road. Officers attempted to stop the scooter because it matched the description of a vehicle used to flee the scene of a June 25 robbery and shooting on Beatties Ford Road, said Robert Fey, a public information officer with CMPD.
Earlier Monday night, detectives from the department's robbery unit had seen a red scooter near Beatties Ford Road but lost sight of it. They remained in the area and advised patrol officers to be on the lookout for a red scooter driven by a black male.
Little more than an hour later, officers spotted a red scooter on Beatties Ford Road and attempted to stop it. The driver failed to stop until he jumped from the scooter and ran toward his home in the 2300 block of Crestview Drive, Fey said.
As the officers caught up to him in the front yard, a struggle ensued. According to a police report, Laney reached for a handgun and was shot by Officer Anthony Holzhauer, who joined CMPD in January 2010.
Varying accounts of what happened
Not everyone agreed with the police account.
A woman who was near the scene told Qcitymetro.com she saw the initial police chase but did not see the shooting. She said Laney, still on the scooter, dodged two police cars that tried to cut him off.
Meanwhile, a man who identified himself as Michael Laney's cousin said he was standing in the doorway just feet away when the shot was fire. He told Qcitymetro that Laney had been tackled on the porch and was pinned to the ground with both hands behind his back when he was shot in the head.
Police dispute that account.
The cousin, Frederick Laney, said that two CMPD officers first tackled Michael Laney in the front yard but that he broke free and ran onto the porch, where the officers tackled him a second time.
Frederick Laney said that while the two officers were attempting to arrest Michael Laney, one with a knee on the suspect’s head, one of the officers yelled, “He’s got a gun.”
Within a split second, Frederick Laney said, he heard a loud pop and heard the second officer exclaim, “What did you do?”
Michael Laney died at the scene.
“They had him,” Frederick Laney said. “He didn’t never pull no gun out. They had no business shooting him, plain and simple.”
Laney has been arrested at least twice by police, most recently last month. In that case, he was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a stolen firearm.
Chief Monroe: Officers feared for their lives
Chief Rodney Monroe meets Tuesday with reporters
In a media briefing early Tuesday, Chief Rodney Monroe said the two officers never had Michael Laney under control and feared for their lives. He said Michael Laney's hands were in front of him when he was shot in the right temple and that Laney was holding a clip from a small-caliber handgun. Monroe said part of the gun itself was protruding from Laney's right pocket.
"This is one of those unfortunate incidents that we never seek to engage ourselves in," he said. "...It's unfortunate any time an officer has to use deadly force.
“It just got to the point where the officer felt he had lost control of the situation,” he added. “We’re talking about a firearm. We very well could be here talking about the loss of two officers.”
Several hours after the shooting, a crowd of angry neighbors was still gathered outside an area cordoned off with yellow police tape. Some shouted threats and racial insults at police.
Michael Laney’s mother, Tina Laney, who said she was in the house at the time of the shooting and didn’t see what happened, was among the crowd.
“They didn’t give my boy a chance,” she screamed. “They took my precious son’s life. That’s my son, and I love my son.”
Monroe said detectives are working to determine whether Michael Laney was connected to the June 25 robbery, in which a victim walking along Beatties Ford Road was shot in the back with a shotgun. The victim survived the shooting.
Meanwhile, detectives with CMPD’s homicide unit are investigating Michael Laney's death while the internal affairs is conducting a parallel investigation to determine whether the officers involved followed CMPD protocol. As is customary in police shootings, Holzhauer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.
Monroe said he had met Tuesday morning with Holzhauer and that the officer was "devastated" about the shooting.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a homicide detective, or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
Editor's Note: Our online news partner The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report.
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