Janisha Fonville, 20

Charlotte, North Carolina
February 19, 2015

Agencies: State Bureau of Investigations SBI North Carolina | Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department North Carolina | District Attorney’s Office Mecklenburg County North Carolina's 26th Prosecutorial District,

Cause of death: Shooting

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Last updated: almost 4 years ago


The girlfriend of a woman fatally shot by a CMPD officer told a television station Friday that she does not believe police needed to use lethal force. Kornesha Banks said in an interview with WSOC that she was inside the north Charlotte public housing unit on Wednesday when Officer Anthony Holzhauer shot 20-year-old Janisha Fonville. He had previously shot another man execution style.  Authorities received a call about 9 p.m. about domestic violence involving two women at an apartment on Bellefonte Drive, just north of uptown. Banks said she met the officers outside and warned them Fonville was brandishing a knife. She said she followed police inside and stayed behind them. Fonville came toward the officers with the knife, she said, but was still six or seven feet away when Holzhauer fired two shots into Fonville. “He got scared so he shot her,” Banks told the station. The account echoes complaints from neighbors and others who question why police did not use a Taser or another tactic instead of shooting. They say Fonville was quiet and was not imposing since she stood only about 5 feet tall.

District Attorney for Mecklenburg County Andrew Murray said Thursday that CMPD Officer Anthony Holzhauer will not be charged for shooting and killing a mentally ill woman, because the ruling would be inappropriate under the law.

Janisha Fonville, 20, was fatally shot by Holzhauer in her apartment located north of uptown.

Civil rights activists had protested that Holzhauer should be fired and charged with murder in Fonville’s case. Fonville is also the second person to be killed by Holzhauer during his job.

The other killing happened in July 2012, when the suspect got into a scuffle with another officer and Holzhauer shot him. Holzhauer was cleared of any charges in that case as well.

Wexler, of the Police Executive Research Forum, said resistance to change is a problem throughout law enforcement. Many departments, for instance, adhere to the 21-foot rule, a line of demarcation that, once crossed by a knife-wielding suspect, gives officers the green light to shoot. This danger zone comes from 30-year-old training practices based more on escalating uses of force than on attempts to calm and peacefully resolve situations, he said.

A survey that Wexler’s group recently completed showed the continuing emphasis placed on force over persuasion. Among the 281 police agencies that responded, the average number of basic training hours devoted to firearms was 58, compared to eight hours spent on de-escalation techniques and 10 hours on communication skills.

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