Teen drowns in Charlotte pond, thinking police were in pursuit

slyttle@charlotteobserver.comApril 28, 2014 

Police say a 19-year-old man drowned in a southeast Charlotte pond, shortly after being chased by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers.

CMPD said officers had given up the pursuit last Thursday night before the man jumped into the water.

Demonta Deshawn Gaither was reported missing Sunday and his body was found Monday afternoon in the pond off Randolph Road.

The chain of events began about 10 p.m. Thursday, police said, when someone called 911 to report two men trying to break into cars in the 3200 block of Eastover Ridge Drive. Officers said they arrived and spotted two men fitting the description of the suspects.

Police began running after the men, but CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said police gave up the pursuit at the edge of woods along Billingsley Road.

“It was determined that no crime actually occurred, so officers began to back away from the scene,” said Capt. Cecil Brisbon during a news conference Monday.

Gaither’s mother reported her son missing Sunday, saying he had not been seen since possibly jumping into a pond off Billingsley Road with police in pursuit.

Investigators said Cedric Young, 17, told police he was the other person with Gaither that night. Young told police the two jumped into the water, Brisbon said.

Tufano said police never saw either man get into the pond.

Young later showed police where Gaither jumped into the water. Investigators said Young told them that he knew that police were not chasing them anymore by the time they reached the pond. But the two jumped into the pond anyway.

Young exited the pond and tried unsuccessfully to find his friend. After about an hour, he went home, Brisbon said.

After talking to Young, police began searching Monday morning at the pond. The Charlotte Fire Department’s dive team was called in and spent about two hours crisscrossing the lake in a boat, using sonar equipment. Shortly after noon, divers entered the water.

About an hour later, the search ended with the discovery of Gaither’s body.

The Observer’s Davie Hinshaw and Elisabeth Arriero contributed.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle

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