Police Officer Jon Dunham held a gun to James Yarborough's head and threatened to kill him on March 26, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Video (below) of the incident recently surfaced.
"The only thing I did wrong that day was run," James Yarborough told WBTV. "That is the only thing I did wrong that day."
Yarborough was a passenger in a car that was stopped because police believed it was linked to a string of larcenies. Yarborough got out of the car and ran from the cops, who eventually caught him.
The incident was filmed on two police body cameras.
Dunham was recorded on a body camera pressing a handgun to Yarborough’s head, and threatening him: "I will kill you, you understand? Give me your hand, now!"
"That moment felt like it might have been my last day," Yarborough recalled.
Another police officer called for a stun gun to be used on Yarborough: "Light him up, he don’t want to do it."
Yarborough was lying on the ground with several officers on top of him when the stun gun was discharged.
"I knew it was over. I just knew it was over," Yarborough recalled.
In addition to the killing threat and the gun to his temple, Yarborough was beaten by the police who were trying to handcuff him.
Finally, an unidentified officer informed the four police officers on top of Yarborough that they had to get off of Yarborough because he could not put his hands back.
Charlotte lawyer Jake Sussman shared his view of the police video with WBTV: "I think if you show that to 12 people on the street, they would certainly think that there was a problem. There certainly seems like that was an unreasonable use of force."
Police Major Stella Patterson stated: "When you look completely at the totality of the circumstances, you have to ask yourself, ‘Was that reasonable in that situation?’ And, based on everything, it was reasonable."
Patterson was asked by WBTV if she was taught at the police academy to point a gun at someone's head and threaten to kill them, and she replied: "I don't know that we were taught to press the gun against somebody's head. We were taught that you could point the weapon, and we can see that Officer Dunham does that in the video."
Dunham actually does point his gun against Yarborough's head, which Dunham reportedly did not mention in his police report. Dunham also did not mention his death threat:
At this point I observed him shove his hand towards his waistband. He was completely uncooperative. I believed he was reaching for a gun in an attempt to seriously hurt me or Officer Michaels; knowing that suspects are known to frequently place guns in the front [of] their waistbands, I drew my pistol and threatened to shoot him.
It was confirmed later that Yarborough was not armed.
Despite the contradictions in the police report, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Internal Affairs Division ruled there was no wrongdoing by the officers who arrested and allegedly beat Yarborough.
He was subsequently charged with resisting a public officer, assault on an officer inflicting serious injury and felon in possession of a firearm, which is a felony, but prosecutors dropped all the charges because the cops failed to provide evidence.
Yarborough said that he tried to file a complaint with the police department, but was turned away each time by the police.
Yarborough could not appeal the results of the internal affairs investigation because he never got a written notice of the results, which is reportedly required.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department issued a statement to WSOC: "An internal investigation concluded that due to the totality of the events, Officer Dunham's use of force did not violate department policies and or directives. It was recommended that Officer Dunham receive additional verbal communication training following the incident."
Dunham is now employed by the Town of Davidson Police Department. Police Chief Jeanne Miller told WBTV that her department did not know about the incident involving Yarborough. Miller said that her department was checking into it.
Dunham did not respond to interview requests from WBTV.