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N.C. police union ‘disgusted’ when suspect released 24 hours after shooting at cops

The suspect, a felon, was briefly jailed for firing at officers outside a nightclub, police said

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.jpg

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

By Joe Marusak
The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police said it’s “disgusted” by the release of a felon less than 24 hours after he was jailed on charges of shooting at police in uptown early Saturday.

Officers were breaking up fights outside a nightclub in the 200 block of North Caldwell Street when 27-year-old Tyler Drew of Rock Hill “retrieved a rifle” and began firing at police, according to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department news release Saturday.

Police tackled Drew but did not discharge their weapons, CMPD said.

Drew was jailed on six counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer and one count each of possession of a firearm by a felon and resisting an officer, jail records show.

He posted the $67,000 bail a magistrate gave him and was released just before 2 p.m. Sunday, according to jail records.

In a statement Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 9 blasted the criminal justice system in Mecklenburg County for “failing the hardworking citizens who live here and the many more that drive here each day for work and leisure.”

As a felon, Drew wasn’t legally allowed to have a gun, lodge officials said. The Observer was unable to determine what previous charge made Drew a felon.

“Yet his total bond was set at $67,000,” according to the lodge statement. “We understand bonds cannot be unreasonably set, but only by the grace of God did no one get struck by reckless gunfire. His actions were intentional and his bond should have been significantly higher.

“Our judicial leaders need to be held accountable for these actions; next time, a violent offender like Mr. Drew could kill your loved one,” lodge officials said.

Suspects charged with violent crimes, however, should remain locked up awaiting trial, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office said in a statement to the Observer on Wednesday.

“When given the opportunity, our prosecutors call on judicial officials to keep those accused of violence in custody,” according to the statement. “Ethical rules prohibit us from commenting on a pending case.”

Court officials declined the Observer’s request Thursday to interview a magistrate or another judge about Drew’s release.

“The 26th Judicial District does not comment on pending litigation,” according to a statement from court officials.

Drew is scheduled to appear in court on April 7, court records show.

In an email to the Observer, local FOP official Daniel Radford said the no-comment response from court officials didn’t surprise him.

“There is a reason criminals chose Mecklenburg County to commit crime,” he said. “If a person can freely shoot at police with little repercussions, how is the community supposed to feel safe from violent offenders who victimize them? This is an injustice to those who work to make an honest living.”

Releasing felons

The issue of releasing felons before trial has flared for years in Mecklenburg County.

In 2019, the county’s chief magistrate, Khalif Rhodes, resigned after criticism by then-police Chief Kerr Putney that his new bail policy let repeat violent offenders get out of jail too easily, the Observer reported at the time.

Rhodes’ reform measures were geared more to defendants, many of them poor, being locked up for minor offenses because they couldn’t afford bail.

The policies made Mecklenburg County judges decide whether to keep a person locked up before trial — and only cash bail could be used if they did, the Observer reported at the time.

According to criminal justice officials, that policy mirrored a longtime but unenforced state law: Defendants facing non-capital charges must be released awaiting trial — unless ruled a flight risk or danger to others, the Observer reported.

“This tries to make sure that we as a county are aligning ourselves with what the statute says,” Rhodes told the Observer at the time.

‘Heroes’ outside Brooklyn Night Club

The FOP lodge statement called the CMPD officers who were at the scene Saturday “true heroes.”

Drew is accused of shooting at officers in a parking lot outside Brooklyn Lounge, near Spectrum Center. The club’s owner did not respond to a request for comment from the Observer. Police didn’t name the nightclub. The Observer confirmed the name on Facebook.

“Despite taking on ‘direct’ gunfire, officers quickly apprehended the suspect without discharging their firearms, surely having saved countless lives,” according to the lodge statement. “Some outlets and politicians will tell you police are the problem – yet this event destroys that narrative.”

On Wednesday, CMPD spokesperson Lt. Stephen Fischbach said that beyond agreeing the officers are heroes, the department wouldn’t comment about the FOP statement.

Observer staff writer Kallie Cox contributed.

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