CHARLOTTE -- The autopsy of Justin Carr has been released, and it shows that he died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Carr, 26, was killed outside of the Omni Hotel during the Uptown riots on September 21.
Within minutes of the shooting, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police claimed that their officers were not at fault, and soon arrested Rayquan Borum, 21, and charged him with first-degree murder. Police said Borum admitted to shooting and killing Carr.
Some in the community, however, including Gloria Merriweather, said Friday the crime was pinned on Borum, and that a CMPD officer actually fired the fatal shot with a rubber bullet rifle.
"In order for someone else to have rang that shot out, they would have had to perfectly time their shooting with the SWAT team's four seconds of flash bangs. So that was ‘one, two, three, four’, so you’re saying in four seconds, a civilian was able to draw a gun in a crowd of hundreds?” she questions. “The bangs came from their [SWAT, police] side. It’s much easier to pin a killing on somebody who already has a record, on someone who is already being criminalized...it makes perfect sense what they are doing.”
Merriweather said she, along with other Charlotte Uprising protesters, were just feet from Carr when he was shot and killed. She recalls seeing law enforcement armed with what she calls rubber bullet rifles, and said those guns were fired into the crowd where Carr ultimately died. She believes a rubber bullet struck and killed him.
“If we are talking about, was he (Carr) in close enough proximity for a rubber bullet to penetrate [his] human brain, that’s absolutely possible,” she said.
But forensic firearms and ballistics expert Jay Jarvis, who independently reviewed the autopsy, strongly disagrees with Merriweather, saying a rubber bullet could not have killed Carr, as they are designed to be non-lethal.
“For one to go through both sides of a skull and create all kinds of radial fractures in the skull, to me that’s just not consistent with what you would expect to see with a rubber bullet,” Jarvis said via phone Friday. “If they hit you, they’re gonna hurt you, I mean it’s going to hurt - but they’re not gonna kill you. The evidence does not support that [Carr] was shot with a rubber bullet.”
“I don’t want to believe that when I go and exercise my first amendment rights, and I go and do these things, and engage in civil disobedience for accountability, that I am at risk of losing my life,” Merriweather said. “None of us were armed that night. So the question is: why are we facing an entirely armed police force, when people are asking questions? That’s scary. I just want to see better from CMPD.”
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police declined to comment Friday on claims that one of their officers fired the fatal shot. In a statement to TWC News, CMPD said: "Information and evidence gathered during the course of this investigation led Homicide Detectives in identifyingRayquan Borum as the suspect in Justin Carr’s death. Detectives signed a warrant for his arrest and requested the assistance of the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team in locating him."
Borum faces first-degree murder charges for Carr’s death; he is scheduled to next appear in court in January 2017.