Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police on Tuesday released body camera footage of the minutes leading up to and the exchange of gunfire between police and a 60-year-old woman in her south Charlotte home last August. The woman, Brenda Donahue, was shot and killed by a CMPD officer.
Police were at Donahue’s house to serve an involuntary commitment order. Officials, in a video statement also released Tuesday, said they were not told beforehand that Donahue had a gun. Involuntary commitment orders are executed by police officers, under a judge’s order, when a person in mental health distress is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Donahue fired at three officers — striking one in the chest — on Aug. 19. She died six days later in the hospital.
The shooting unfolded just after 5:30 p.m. at a home in the 8900 block of St. Croix Lane, near Four Mile Creek Road in the Raintree community, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
The footage shows police speaking with a male resident of the home who leads them inside and shows them Donahue’s room. In the video, the door appears closed and several officers are seen in a narrow set of stairs leading to the room, first attempting to talk to Donahue through the door.
Police identify themselves and Donahue begins shooting at them through the door, striking one officer in the chest and knocking off her body camera. The officers were not injured, police have said.
The officers rushed back down the stairs and took cover, and Donahue shot again, the footage shows. Donahue left the room with her gun and looked over the railing and Officer Brandon Graham shot at her. That moment is not seen in body-worn camera footage released Tuesday. In the video, Graham is heard telling someone else right after that Donahue was holding the gun as she faced his direction and looked over the stair railing.
In the video statement accompanying the release of video Tuesday, Sgt. Steven Winterhalter of CMPD said Donahue was actively a threat to the police officers after shooting at them through the bedroom door then exiting the room holding the gun. Winterhalter said police followed training steps by not firing back immediately and running to cover before Donahue emerged from the room.
The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, CMPD said. The use of force and deadly shooting is still under review by the Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office.