Just before midnight on January 18, 2011 a black SUV roars up North Tryon street. When the driver nears Interstate 85, he takes the service road that leads to a small northeast Charlotte neighborhood of modest sized homes.
A minute later the SUV pulls into the cul-de-sac on Kingville Drive, as the driver pulls slowly past the mailbox checking the address, the SUV's headlights wash across the front of the house, flooding the living room of the home with a noticeable flash of light.
Instinctively Marquis Owens one of 3 people home, looks out the front window and watches as the SUV comes to a stop. A second later one of the occupants gets out of the vehicle. Owens would later recall. “I looked out the window. I was like, ‘Everybody on the ground, they're about to start shooting.’
In all more than 20 bullets rip into the house, one of the bullets hits Kilona Gettys. The 18 year old screams out in pain as the SUV speeds away. She is later taken to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment of her gunshot wounds and a few days later released.
Marquis Owens and another man Kenneth Witherspoon who was also inside the home are not injured.
Photos of the crime scene here and WSOC TV's coverage of the attack is here.
A year later Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe is standing with other CMPD Command Staff touting the department's most recent reduction in crime.
"The numbers are going down because these officers are working in the neighborhoods," Monroe tells the gathered media, "Look at the homicide numbers, They're coming down. I can't fudge that."
During his remarks, Monroe cited help from community organizations in helping cut the crime rate.
Monroe also defended his department's compilation of crime statistics, saying he's "willing to listen" to anyone who can prove the numbers are not accurate. Monroe said police follow the criminal code, adding, "The code is clear. We follow that." (Monroe might indeed follow "the criminal code" but in this case he means the UCR Code.)
But the person he should ask was standing only a few feet away, talking on her cell phone.
Major Vicki Foster as head of CMPD Criminal Investigations unit is responsible for the way crimes are reported.
It is at Foster's direction the attempted murder of Kilona Gettys, Marquis Owens and the third man is reported as a single crime, and classified under the UCR as an aggravated assault. Anyone searching for the incident via CMPD's crime mapping system would see only the UCR classification not the real crime report as filed by CMPD officers.
While Chief Monroe is telling reporters that his staff report crimes accurately, the facts tell a different story.
The above police report lists the offense as aggravated assault even though the crime is clearly nothing less than "assault with a deadly weapon" or attempted murder. To see the real report and really what happened you need to know the the secret codes. Cedar Posts has saved you the trouble. The actual report as filed by CMPD Officers is here.
It is the UCR that gives Chief Monroe cover to use the numbers and the rules of reporting to tell the public that crime is down. You'll notice every time he talks he adds emphasis that he's following the code.
Standing next to Vicki Foster is Deputy Chief Kerr Putney who recently stated that the commercial larceny statistics had shown an increase because of break-ins at mini-storage facilities. Putney went on the say that CMPD is required to report one crime per victim or rented space. But apparently that is not the case as City News Watch turned up several reports showing just the opposite.
On Tuesday Chief Monroe reported to Charlotte's Media the following general numbers. These numbers were reprinted by the Charlotte Observer.
Homicides: 55 - down 6.8 percent
Robberies: 1,612 - down 10.2 percent
Rapes: 211 - down 8.7 percent
Aggravated assaults: 2,901 - up 3.8 percent
Residential burglaries: 6,352 - down 13 percent
Commercial burglaries: 2,184 - up 8.1 percent
Vehicle thefts: 2,665 - down 21.2 percent
Larcenies: 21,369 - down 5.9 percent
Arson: 159 - down 19.8 percent
Just one little problem, the Arson number is transposed, it is actually 195 and the Vehicle theft number is from 2010, as the correct number for 2011 is 2101.
The report prepared by Major Foster's office is littered with errors and miscalculations. Check out the headings on page two here.
Yet with these clear errors being shown to the media, typos and transpositions no one bothered to ask how such a dramatic cut in Auto Theft was achieved.
Pretty simple actually if everyone who steals a car is charged with "Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle" the Vehicle theft numbers fall.
Trouble is CMPD officers got carried away with the project to reduce felony auto theft. So where did CMPD hide 564 auto theft crimes? Just look at the increase in Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle"arrests according to one source with the department the number is 24.5 percent higher than 2010.
Cedar's Take: Clearly something is wrong with the way CMPD is reporting crime.
If we are going to rate the Chief's job performance on reduction of crime numbers rather than the effective and cost efficient management of the department why are the numbers being prepared by the chief's office?
Shouldn't there be an audit of these numbers at least on a bi-annual basis?
If I can find errors by just reading over the report, imagine what a real audit would turn up.