The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is saying it regrets that an officer turned away a victim who was trying to file a complaint at its headquarters after the victim says she was drugged at a popular bar in uptown Charlotte.
The woman went on to post online about the police’s response. That spurred the department to follow up.
Leah McGuirk, 31, said in a video posted on YouTube that she had been drugged at Rooftop 210, a bar in the Epicentre Complex, on May 12. Nearly two weeks later, she tried to file a police report but an officer told her she had to file from the scene of the crime.
“I tried to file a police report in downtown Charlotte, but the officer refused to let me file," she said, "stating that I would need to return the scene of the crime and call 911 from there.”
McGuirk went on to say she contacted Rooftop 210 but didn’t receive any assistance. She also said something has to change because the response she received was unacceptable.
Lt. Melanie Peacock, who is the unit supervisor for sexual assault investigations at CMPD, said when she heard about the video, she sent a detective to follow up with the victim.
“We reached out to her because we value helping victims in any way that we can and try to determine what occurred and what we can do for them," Peacock said. "A report has been filed and is being investigated both by sexual assault as well as Alcohol Beverage Control Division.”
Peacock also said it isn’t true that victims need to return to the scene of the crime to file a report and revealed that the officer McGuirk talked to is being investigated.
There has been one reported rape and three other sex offenses at the same address, which includes a number of other establishments. In two of these incidents, police say the victims mentioned possibly being drugged. Peacock says she doesn’t have any reason to think the incidents are connected at this point.
The bar hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Peacock says she doesn’t believe other officers are turning people away from filing reports and this instance is unusual. But CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano says it has caused the department to reflect.
“She's given us an opportunity to really look inward in and find out if we're doing everything we need to do as an organization to deliver the best victim service, customer service that we could and at the end of the day that's you know that's what we strive for,” Tufano said.
McGuirk’s police report was filed Thursday and is being investigated. She said she was glad CMPD addressed how they treated her but she hopes the department makes systemic changes in the way it treats victims.
Updated at 5:36 p.m. Friday, June 1, 208.