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Body cameras get little attention from NC lawmakers

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In the wake of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore over police killings of unarmed black men, the trial of a former Charlotte police officer charged with manslaughter for the 2013 shooting of Jonathon Ferrell has been met with relative calm.

Law enforcement in Charlotte has teamed with local clergy and barbers to build relations with community members and keep the peace regardless of the outcome of the trial of former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick.

Charlotte plans on equipping 1,400 police officers with body cameras by October. Several cities and towns including Asheville and Durham have also approved pilot programs.

Meanwhile in Raleigh, lawmakers have been less willing to take action addressing police interactions.

The most support comes in the House budget, which includes includes $2.5 million in funding to local departments to purchase body cameras. The Senate budget does not include those funds, and legislative leaders are in discussions to find a compromise spending bill by their self-imposed Aug. 14 deadline.

Two bills requiring most police officers in the state to wear body cameras did not make it out of a House committee, nor did a bill banning racial profiling and requiring officers receive diversity training.

Legislation authorizing a study on body cameras and another bill specifying that police footage remain confidential were passed by the House but died in the Senate.

Prosecutors say Ferrell crashed his car early on the morning of Sept. 14, 2013 and went to get help by knocking on the door of a nearby home when a person inside called 911 to report a robber. Kerrick arrived with two other officers and fired 12 shots, 10 of which hit Ferrell. Kerrick faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted.

Kerrick’s attorneys contend he acted in self-defense. They say Ferrell had been using marijuana and drinking alcohol and that he told officers: “Shoot me. Shoot me.”

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