FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2017 Contact: SEAC (704) 531-3853 | Family Attorney (704) 248-0949
Ackhavong Family Statement:
Response to DA's Ruling Today Not to Prosecute CMPD Officer O.M. Lester
To the general public:
We first thank everyone who has supported our family in making sense of what happened to our dear brother Sylasone “Bong” Ackhavong. The community has shown our family tremendous support and solidarity in our journey to find out what happened to him on the night he was shot and killed by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) SWAT Officer O.M. Lester. What we know so far about how Bong’s life was senselessly taken, has left us with even more questions than answers. Bong was a dear and beloved son, brother, and father. He was a good man, who was funny, loving, and compassionate. He was an immediate friend to anyone he met. This event has been hard on our family, especially as we are unclear on what happened the night Bong lost his life.
Today, we met with the Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney (DA) and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to learn of the results of the investigation that we requested into the police shooting of our brother, Sylasone “Bong” Ackhavong. The shooting occurred on April 19, 2016, instantly killing our dear brother. The District Attorney provided us with a narrative of what happened that night and showed us some still images of the security camera footage from the gas station where he was killed. The decision was made during the SBI’s investigation that Officer O.M. Lester was justified in shooting and killing our brother Bong. Officer Lester will not be prosecuted.
We want clarity on the situation, and we still have not received it. We are still unclear on what happened to Bong in the last hours of his life. Since his death in April 2016, today was the first time that we have even seen any images of what happened that night. Anything that we know was relayed to us, firstly, by a CMPD officer and today by a DA. We want to see and understand for ourselves what happened and how Bong was killed. We have decided to request access to the full investigative file from the CMPD. The file will have camera footage from the gas station, police body and dash cameras, as well as any audio from the 911 and officer dispatch calls. We have a lot of questions as to what happened and why. These questions will not be answered until we have full access to the investigative file--not bits and pieces provided by the media, CMPD, SBI, and DA. If denied, we are prepared to seek a court order to have full access to the investigative file--an additional legal hurdle placed on our family from the newly enacted HB 972 prohibiting the release of police video recordings to the public.
The media have erroneously painted Bong as a danger, stating in earlier reports that Bong pointed his gun at the police. Despite the fact that Bong had a gun and a bulletproof vest, we would like the public to know he never lifted or pointed his gun at the police, or made any sudden moves to harm them. This fact has been confirmed to us by both CMPD and the DA. We know Bong as a person who would never hurt anyone. He should still be here with us. We love and we miss him.
The Ackhavong Family
The Southeast Asian Coalition was established to create a voice that addresses the needs of the Southeast Asian population in North Carolina. Committed to uplifting the Southeast Asian community through personal awareness, systems change, and community development, SEAC aims to engage and empower the rapidly growing Southeast Asian population.