Photo shows teen, who was shot by North Charleston officer, holding a gun
A week before a policeman’s bullets dropped him to the North Charleston pavement, 17-year-old Carlton Pringle appeared in a Facebook photo holding a handgun similar to the one he is accused of pointing at the officer.
Pringle’s family has said he is a well-behaved boy who sings in the choir and serves as an usher at their church. Dominique Chisolm, his mother, has never known him to have a firearm, she has said.
Family members were not aware of the picture until Friday.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Chisolm said before referring any further questions to her attorney.
Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston branch of the NAACP, said it could be an effort to smear Pringle’s name.
Regardless, it doesn’t alter their opposition to the police officer’s decision that day, a decision that has sparked ire among community members.
“Even if he’s on Facebook with a gun, that had absolutely no connection to him being shot by a police officer,” Bryant said. “It just means at some point in time he was seen with a gun. It’s just a picture.”
Pringle remained hospitalized Friday following surgery, according to his grandmother, Patricia Pringle. His family said he had been shot once in the back, once in the buttocks and three times in the pelvic area.
“He’s making progress,” Patricia Pringle said. “He’s doing better.”
Pfc. Anthony Dipaolo of the North Charleston Police Department reported that he spotted Pringle on Sunday afternoon as he responded to gunfire in the Ferndale community. Pringle matched a 911 caller’s rough description that one of the teens seen running from the scene had dreadlocks in his hair.
A surveillance video of the shooting, taken from a business at the corner of Gaynor Street and Hock Avenue, shows Pringle running and turning briefly toward Dipaolo, who then fires his sidearm. Critics said the video’s quality is too poor to discern whether Pringle had a gun and pointed it.
As Pringle writhes on the pavement, Dipaolo holds him a gunpoint and kicks something onto the grass toward himself. Police officials later would release a photo of a Hi-Point 9 mm lying on the grass.
The gun they say Pringle had pointed at Dipaolo bears resemblance to the one he holds in his left hand and points toward the camera in the Facebook photo. A friend smokes beside him as they both display their middle fingers.
Capt. Scott Deckard, a police spokesman, said detectives were of aware of the photo, but they do not know if it features the same gun they collected from the shooting scene Sunday.
He added that crime-scene experts found no shell casings in the Ferndale community, the origin of the initial call.
Since the shooting, the Facebook profile of the person who posted the picture, a close friend of Pringle, has been laced with profanity directed toward the police department. Forty-five people “liked” one of the “ the police” posts.
The friend refers to Pringle as “Dammage” or his “right hand,” and laments not being permitted to see him at Medical University Hospital.
He told his friends in several posts not to believe the talk about what happened, and said the police tried to “off my dawg.”
Bryant, the official with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said it’s not uncommon for residents to express frustration toward the department.
“We just know that people have anger toward the police department, period,” Bryant said. “They harass people. ... I don’t get any good feelings about the North Charleston Police Department from the general public.”
Officers are told to be more mindful of the frustrations many residents might feel after such shootings, according to Deckard, but no increased patrols are dedicated to the communities where they happen.
“We try to reach out by meeting with ministers, meeting with the family,” he said. “The officers have a little heightened awareness of what reaction the community might have to something like this.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.