April 4, 2018

Edward McCrae’s Death Overshadows Winston-Salem’s City Council Meeting

Monday was Councilmember D.D. Adams birthday. But it wasn’t a day for celebrations. After quickly wishing Adams a happy birthday Winston-Salem Alliance president and Winston-Salem mayor, Allen  Joines took a more somber tone as he addressed the shooting of Edward Van McCrae by a Winston-Salem Police Department officer.

Mayor Joines essentially repeated what he and Councilmember James Taylor said at a press conference earlier in the day:

“We will, as a city be diligent in releasing the all information possible, as soon as possible. Basically, as soon as the SBI and district attorney complete their investigation. And assuming we are successfully cleared, the body cam video, assuming we can get a court order to do so-because as it was pointed out today that the city cannot do that on their own without an order of the court.

Again, we also thank Officer McGuire and his family. And our thoughts are with him as well.

We have had a very positive record of working with the community as Councilmember Burke pointed out today. A similar situation not too long ago, we asked for the public to be calm and patient with the community, city, the district attorney, as this investigation was done. And it came out in the right way and we are asking the same thing tonight, going forward. We ask the community to give the SBI and district attorney an opportunity to finish the investigation.

I’m very proud of our police department and the work that they have done and continue to do build trust and confidence within the community, and tonight we are asking that we continue to honor that.”

Mayor Joines then called upon Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson to address the council. Chief Thompson asked for patience while the investigation proceeds, and issued a statement essentially absolving Officer McGuire of all blame.

How can officials categorically proclaim Officer McGuire’s innocence less than 72 hours after shooting, before Officer McGuire has been interviewed by the SBI and before Mr. McCrae’s body has been buried?

It was very insensitive of Mayor Joines to thank Officer McGuire. What was he thanking Officer McGuire for? Even if Officer McGuire’s account of his fatal encounter with Mr. McCrae is to be believed, shooting and killing a member of the community is nothing to celebrate.

Police should be honored when they de-escalate conflicts with the public. Mayor Joines needs to apologize to the family of Edward McCrae for his poor choice of words.

There are many questions yet to be answered by the WSPD. First, what was the vehicle carrying Mr. McCrae stopped for? The Winston-Salem Journal and Triad City Beat have both reported that a gun was recovered at the scene. But where was it found? Was it on Mr. McCrae or near his person?

The officer’s body cam recording won’t be released for months, if ever. That will be for the D.A. and a judge to decide. While we wait for the body camera to be released, we still have the testimony of the two other witnesses that were in the vehicle. What is their account of the deadly incident between Officer McGuire and Mr. McCrae?

Justice requires impartiality from the City of Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Police Department. They both seem more concerned with keeping the city calm than impartially investigating a traffic stop that ended in the death of Edward McCrae.

 

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