City asks public to be 'patient' in wake of Durham Police incide - WFLA News Channel 8

City asks public to be 'patient' in wake of Durham Police incidents

Posted: Updated:
Three people have died in incidents involving Durham Police since July. Three people have died in incidents involving Durham Police since July.
DURHAM, N.C. -

As tensions mount between the community and Durham Police Department, the city manager is asking the public to be patient until investigations into three major incidents involving the department are finished.

Friday night, violence erupted at a vigil for 17-year-old Jesus Huerta, who was killed while in police custody last week.

Police say Officer Samuel Duncan was transporting Huerta to headquarters to pick up a warrant charging the teen with second-degree trespassing, but Huerta died while in the back of Duncan's cruiser.

The cause of Huerta's death has not been determined, but demonstrators protested his death Friday at the bronzed bull statue in downtown Durham.

What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration turned violent as protestors smashed windows, threw firecrackers at police officers, and at least one cruiser was vandalized.

Some say the violence is an indication of growing frustration with the Durham Police Department. Huerta was the third person to die in an incident involving Durham Police since July; still, Chief Jose Lopez said he doesn't believe there is an organized effort to undermine the police department.

Lopez said he believes outsiders are the ones who turned Friday night's vigil violent, and he does not believe the public is losing confidence in the police department.

"This is not the norm that we see in Durham as far as individuals who are speaking their minds and protesting," Lopez said.

On Sept. 17, Derek Walker was shot by officers after he brandished a gun and threatened to kill himself at the bull statue. And on July 27, Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo was shot after he refused to drop a knife when surrounded by police.

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said all three incidents are still open investigations; and until they're finished, people shouldn't jump to conclusions. But he said he understands the community's frustration.

"The police department's been in the news a lot, and it's understandable to me how some could question their credibility," Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said.

City Councilor Tom Moffitt, however, said his patience with the State Bureau of Investigation is running out.

"I'm personally frustrated by the long delays in getting investigative reports from the State Bureau of Investigation," Moffitt said. "I've been asked if I see a pattern, but no reports have been issued on any incident over the past year, and without the reports and the facts they contain, all any of us can do is offer conjecture.

"That doesn't serve the deceased, their families or the community."

RELATED STORIES

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

  • Durham CountyMore>>

  • Duke University to hold Michael Brown forum Monday night

    Duke University to hold Michael Brown forum Monday night

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:32:26 GMT
    Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    The issues surrounding the deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. will be discussed in the Triangle Monday night when Duke University will hold a town hall forum.
    The issues surrounding the deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. will be discussed in the Triangle Monday night when Duke University will hold a town hall forum.
  • Granville Co. farmer donates 'ugly' corn to local charities

    Granville Co. farmer donates 'ugly' corn to local charities

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:48:11 GMT
    Nearly $3,000 worth of corn was donated to the Produce Box by farmer Gary Fuller, of Granville County.Nearly $3,000 worth of corn was donated to the Produce Box by farmer Gary Fuller, of Granville County.
    Rather than throw away thousands of ears of "ugly but good" corn, foiled after very wet summer, a local farmer chose to donate them to the needy.
    Rather than throw away thousands of ears of "ugly but good" corn, foiled after very wet summer, a local farmer chose to donate them to the needy.
  • Former Marine closes in on goal to keep coffee shop open

    Former Marine closes in on goal to keep coffee shop open

    Saturday, August 30 2014 1:50 AM EDT2014-08-30 05:50:17 GMT
    Matt Victoriano's military background influenced every aspect of his Durham coffee house and bar, Intrepid Life.Matt Victoriano's military background influenced every aspect of his Durham coffee house and bar, Intrepid Life.
    A business owner and former Marine says he may be able to keep his Durham coffee shop open after receiving an outpouring of support from the community.
    A business owner and former Marine says he may be able to keep his Durham coffee shop open after receiving an outpouring of support from the community.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.