Raleigh City Council members leave meeting after interruptions on police oversight

North Carolina
Raleigh Council Leaves Meeting

Raleigh City Council members walked out of a meeting Tuesday night as community members interrupted the session to give a speech on police oversight and body-worn cameras. 

Activists are demanding changes to Raleigh police practices and policies after last month’s deadly officer-involved shooting.

“Time is up. Time is up for dialogue reports, for work sessions, for studies, for feedback, for public hearings,” one woman said.

Council member Corey Branch told a woman she was out of order several times before council members walked out of the session. They returned a few minutes later and resumed the meeting.

Members of Raleigh PACT, or Police Accountability Community Taskforce, spoke during the public comment period.  PACT speakers asked members to adopt mandatory, recurring crisis intervention training for all officers, money for body cameras that automatically turn on when an officer draws their weapon, and stricter punishment for officers who don’t follow the body camera policy.

“We don’t want to sit here and reprimand the officers who are continuously doing their job, protecting the citizens of Raleigh. But for the officers who do not follow the policy, they need to have consequences to those actions,” said PACT member Surena Johnson.

The calls for change come after 30-year-old Soheil Mojarrad was shot and killed last month by an officer.

Police say Mojarrad pulled out a knife, threatening an officer.

Mojarrad’s family says he suffered from mental illness after a traumatic brain injury several years ago.

The officer was wearing a body camera, but police say it wasn’t activated during the shooting.

“We as his friends, family and larger community, are crying out in grief to end police violence against people like Soheil and need compassion,” said Ivanna Gonzalez.

PACT members say they’ve been asking the council to approve a community police oversight committee since 2015.

“We’ve been meeting like for the past couple of years so something like this doesn’t happen,” said Johnson.

Johnson asked council members directly if they would support an oversight committee.

Council members Russ Stephenson, Kay Crowder and Stef Mendell said they believed the city needed some kind of oversight board. 

Council members Corey Branch, and Nicole Stewart said they wanted to hear more information from city staff at the next meeting.

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