North Carolina, USA police kills unarmed man

Akiel Denkins

By Kate Randall in the USA:

Fatal police shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina provokes protests

2 March 2016

A crowd of about 300 people gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Monday evening to protest the fatal police shooting of a young black man earlier in the day.

On Tuesday, police identified D.C. Twiddy, 29, as the Raleigh police officer who shot and killed the man during a foot chase the day before. Twiddy’s account of the incident has not been released and he has been placed on administrative duty pending investigation.

As of Tuesday afternoon, police had not released the name of the deceased. However, a Raleigh woman, Rolanda Byrd, told NBC News that she believes it was her 24-year-old son, Akiel Denkins, and that witnesses told her they saw him shot while running from the police. She said her son worked for a moving company and was the father of two young boys.

Raleigh police said in a statement that Twiddy had been pursuing a man wanted on a felony drug charge Monday afternoon when he fired at the suspect and killed him in the vicinity of Bragg and East streets in the city’s impoverished South Park neighborhood.

Chief of Police Cassandra Deck-Brown claimed that a gun was found “in close proximity” to the suspect.

Deck-Brown had been scheduled to meet with the Raleigh mayor and city council Monday to discuss equipping police officers with body cameras, but the meeting was postponed after the shooting death.

People soon gathered at the scene of the fatal shooting, shouting at police across yellow crime scene tape. “They killed my son for no reason,” Byrd told local news station WRAL. “Everybody out here said he was running, didn’t have a gun, [was] trying to jump a fence, and that officer shot my son seven times. For what? For nothing,” she said.

“My son didn’t have no gun on him. My son wasn’t threatening that officer,” Byrd told reporters. She said people in the area at the time told her that her son was fleeing the police and “they couldn’t catch him, so they shot at him seven times.”

Byrd told reporters that her son had a warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear and that she believed that was why he ran from police. She told NBC News that her son didn’t own a gun and that witnesses told her they didn’t see him with one during the police chase.

A witness, Truvalia Kearney, told the Raleigh News & Observer that she was standing near Denkins around noon on Monday when a police car pulled up and Denkins “took off running.” She said that Denkins jumped a chain-link fence and ducked into the backyard of a house while Twiddy, the officer, pursued him.

Kearney told the News & Observer, “The officer jumped the fence and fell down” and then “pulled his gun out and started shooting. [Denkins] got shot in the back.”

Byrd, the slain man’s mother, spoke to reporters at the scene of the shooting several hours after it happened. “Everybody out here’s saying that he ran,” she said. “He wasn’t running toward the officer, he was running away from the officer. … He wasn’t threatening anyone.”

Byrd told reporters that her lawyer is in possession of a video in which the shooting can be heard, but not seen. “There’s video,” she said. “Y’all are going to see it soon.”

Police chief Deck-Brown said that the shooting would be investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation and by the Raleigh Police Department’s internal affairs unit.

People gathered Monday evening at a makeshift memorial and vigil near the scene of the shooting. Neighborhood resident Casanova Womack told WRAL that tensions were running high in the neighborhood and that “People are just frustrated, angry, upset and disappointed.”

Rev. Chris Jones, pastor at a church several blocks from the shooting scene, told WRAL of Jenkins, “I treated him like my son. I’ve fed him at my church before,” Jones said. “Now, he’s lying back there, dead.”

Jones questioned why the police had to kill Denkins, WRAL reported. “If he ran from you today, you could have arrested him tomorrow,” he said. “Why did you have to kill him today?”

According to a Washington Post database that tracks fatal police shootings, Monday’s shooting is the first time a Raleigh police office has shot and killed someone since at least the beginning of last year. Twenty-nine people were fatally shot by police in North Carolina in 2015.

4 thoughts on “North Carolina, USA police kills unarmed man

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  3. After two deadlocked juries DA drops charges in killing of Samuel DuBose

    On Tuesday, Ohio prosecutor Joseph T. Deters of Hamilton County announced in a press conference that the county had decided to drop any further efforts to prosecute Raymond Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer who killed Samuel DuBose at a traffic stop in 2015. The decision comes after two trials that ended with deadlocked juries.

    Tensing, who is white, was first charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter 10 days after stopping DuBose, a 43-year-old black man, on July 19, 2015. The officer had initially reported that he had been forced to shoot DuBose during the traffic stop because he was being dragged by the car and was nearly run over.

    On the day Tensing was arrested, however, his initial account was exposed as a lie. Body camera footage was released to the public showing that the officer had shoved his gun into the car window and yelled stop after he saw DuBose turning on the ignition in the middle of the stop, after which Tensing fired a single round into the man’s head. It was only after the shot that the car lurched forward and came to a stop down the street as Tensing ran after it.

    Deters told reporters that his decision not to retry Tensing came after meeting with jurors in the case and being told that the officer would never be convicted because some jurors would never vote to convict a police officer. “We had two jurors that simply would not find a police officer guilty,” he said. “Period.” Deters initially decried the officer’s actions in 2015 and described the incident as “a pretty chicken-crap stop.”

    On Tuesday, he stated, “I don’t like it. My opinion of this case has not changed from two years ago tomorrow and it’s not going to change.” Deters delivered the news to DuBose’s family on Tuesday before the press conference and reported, “Needless to say, they’re very upset with what the decision was. It was horrible.”

    DuBose’s sister spoke to reporters after the press conference and explained that she thought the decision would encourage police officers by sending a message that they will not face criminal penalties for killing people. She said that Tensing “was judged by the jurors who didn’t want to convict because they valued Tensing’s life more. It wasn’t about evidence.”

    Deters has referred the issue to the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio, which will allow federal authorities to explore the case for possible federal civil rights violations. Deters told reporters that the US Attorney’s office called the county prosecutor’s office about the case and that his staff had already met with federal authorities to review the evidence.

    Such referrals are made by district attorneys in police violence cases knowing that prosecutions for civil rights violations are highly unlikely. The standards of evidence for bringing charges in federal civil rights cases are much higher than in state criminal cases.

    An investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that between 1995 and 2015, under the administrations of former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, federal prosecutors refused to bring charges against 96 percent of police officers accused of civil rights violations. This trend continues under the Trump administration.

    US Justice Department decides not to charge New Mexico police officers who killed James Boyd

    Federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they would not be filing civil rights charges against the two former Albuquerque police officers, Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, who killed a mentally ill homeless man in 2014. A state District Court judge declared a mistrial in October last year after a jury could not reach a verdict on second-degree murder charges.

    James Boyd was a 38-year-old homeless man who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was involved in a standoff with officers at his illegal campsite in a wealthy neighborhood in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

    Nineteen officers were involved in the standoff. Officer Sandy threw a flash grenade toward Boyd while another unleashed a police dog. Boyd, who appeared to be confused, pulled out two pocketknives and stood in place. Both Sandy and Perez fired fatal shots into him within five seconds.

    At the time of Boyd’s killing, the Albuquerque Police Department had already been under scrutiny by the Department of Justice for a pattern of using unnecessary force, including deadly force. A report was released by the department shortly after Boyd’s death, recommending that the local agency scale back its use of force.

    The District Attorney Raúl Torrez of Bernalillo County had already announced in February that he would not retry the murder case. The US attorney for New Mexico, James D. Tierney, stated in a news release that there was not enough evidence “to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute” a civil rights case.

    The decision comes after it has been reported that the Trump administration has been asking the Justice Department to scale back investigations into allegations of civil rights violations involving local law enforcement agencies. The administration has also asked that the department stop pushing local agencies to reform “use-of-force” polices when it comes to police killings. The Justice Department has since called for the review of 14 such reformation decrees across the nation.

    The city police union in Albuquerque applauded the US Department of Justice for its decision. Union President Shaun Willoughby said, “This is the end of a nightmare for these two officers.” Boyd’s family has settled a complaint against the city for $5 million.


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