Charlotte officer charged with fatal pedestrian car crash

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An attorney for a Charlotte police officer in the center of a fatal crash is demanding answers. He’s wondering why the officer was arrested, let alone charged.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says it’s from the moment the crash happened on 3:20 am Saturday morning.

Police have been investigating and gathering evidence to find out what led up to Officer Phillip Barker, in a police car, hitting and killing pedestrian James Michael Short.

Wednesday, five days after the crash, police charged the officer with misdemeanor death by vehicle.

“Major issue that we have right now is officer Barker was traveling at approximately 100 miles per hour,” said Chief Kerr Putney.

“You can still hold the officer accountable if you think that he committed a crime by issuing him a citation,” said Barker’s attorney Michael Green. “He’s still charged. But instead of doing that, you have us come in under the guise of making a statement and say you’re under arrest and you put him in the Mecklenburg County Jail.”

CMPD police say in 2016 they had eight cases like Barker’s. Two were issued citations and six were arrested.

“I asked them if they could merely issue him a citation and that request was denied,” Green said.

“Excessive speed was the primary factor in the collision,” a CMPD spokesperson said.

Police say they know that the officer was responding to an emergency call, had his lights and siren on and had a green light on the traffic signal. They say they looked at the area where the collision happened.

“The compelling evidence here was that even with all the mitigating factors we couldn’t overcome the speed and the lack of due regard for the safety of others,” Putney said.

“CMPD’s own directives, they don’t have anything that says if you’re traveling 90 miles, 100 miles, 70 miles, they don’t have anything that says that this is too fast,” Green said.

Officer Barker is expected to make his first court appearance next month.