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After further review, Durham DA says no charges in Jesus Huerta case

Posted May 30

Jesus Huerta (Photo courtesy of the Huerta family)

— After further review of the case, Durham's top prosecutor said Friday that no charges will be filed in the death of Jesus Huerta, a teenager who police say shot himself in the head while he was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car last year.

The Office of the District Attorney first announced Jan. 14 that there was no evidence to warrant criminal charges in the 17-year-old's Nov. 19 death, but the State Bureau of Investigation, less than two weeks later, began looking at claims in an anonymous letter that Huerta's family's attorney received.

"Gun permits, firearm qualifications and fire range records were reviewed," District Attorney Leon Stanback said Friday in a statement. "The author of the anonymous letter was discovered, located and interviewed. The anonymous source admitted that he reported rumor and conjecture without a factual basis."

Stanback did not say what the letter entailed.

"The details of the additional SBI investigation were reviewed by the attorney for the Huerta family and the family," Stanback continued. "The district attorney is satisfied that there is no probable cause to charge a crime."

According to autopsy and toxicology reports, Huerta died of a close-range gunshot to the mouth and had in his system a potentially lethal dose of cough medicine that could have caused the teen to hallucinate.

The results of an internal police investigation found that Officer Samuel Duncan picked up Huerta early on Nov. 19 in response to a call about a runaway and learned that he had a warrant out for his arrest on a second-degree trespassing charge.

By 2 a.m., according to police, Huerta was dead – his hands still cuffed behind him, slumped over in the back seat of the car outside the Durham Police Department – and a handgun was found on the floorboard of the patrol car.

Duncan, according to police, missed the .45-caliber handgun when he frisked Huerta.

He has been on administrative duty with pay while the Durham Police Department investigates whether he violated policies in how he handled Huerta's arrest.

A police spokeswoman said Friday afternoon that the review is ongoing but should be completed soon.

Duncan, 26, has been on the police force since July 2012.

Huerta's family had no comment Friday on the district attorney's announcement, their attorney, Alexander Charns said in an email.

"The Huerta family thanks the SBI and the DA for following up on the area of inquiry that was identified," Charns wrote. "I offer my thanks as well."

11 Comments

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  • They call me CATMAN May 30, 4:44 p.m.

    This is sad all the way around a young boy is gone. However he did have a gun and he did have some issues and in the end no one is a winner here.

  • New Creature May 30, 4:24 p.m.

    Certainly the lives of of our law enforcement officers are always at risk, including this officer. It's clear that he jumped out of a moving car to flee when the gun fired.

  • ltbarkley May 30, 4:23 p.m.

    My only question is how can he shoot himself in the mouth and still have his hands handcuffed... View More

    — Posted by greg69innc

    Greg, you may want to read the coroners report. http://media2.newsobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/21/17/37/1iYviy.So.156.pdf#storylink=relast

    There was a hole in his jacket. Sounds consistent to me of someone that is handcuffed, fooling with a gun trying to hide it, accidentally pulls the trigger. Personally I think he didnt mean to kill himself, it was just a tragic accident.

    Put your hands behind your back, twist like you are trying to pull a gun out of your waistband, your head is turned toward the right side, gun goes off, bullet goes through your jacket, enters Through the LIP on the left side (not mouth as reported), and exits the top of the head at an angle that would be consistent with that explanation. He was not properly frisked. I see no conspiracy here, only a tragic accident.

  • rickandlinda88 May 30, 4:22 p.m.

    come on people..in this case,put it to bed..this kid how or why,managed to hide a weapon and shoot himself,instead of the police officer.it's a terrible tragedy.but now let him and this event..rest in peace..

  • greg69innc May 30, 4:07 p.m.

    My only question is how can he shoot himself in the mouth and still have his hands handcuffed behind his back? I could understand it had he died of a gunshot to the back of the head.

  • PowderedToastMan May 30, 3:55 p.m.

    Moral of the story: a badge will get you off of any accountability possible.

    The internal... View More

    — Posted by less_govt_is_better_govt

    Tell us why the police should be held responsible for someone who killed themselves?

  • PowderedToastMan May 30, 3:54 p.m.

    Good.

  • heard-it-all-before May 30, 3:45 p.m.

    now before the peanut gallery goes wild on here, be sure to note this statement in the article:

    "The Office of the District Attorney first announced Jan. 14 that there was no evidence to warrant criminal charges in the 17-year-old's Nov. 19 death"

    this means there must also be SUPPORTING EVIDENCE as to why they won't file charges-- something wral oops forgot to ask and document.

    so if you're going to go wild, be sure to direct it first towards WRAL's consistently skewed, one-sided, opinionated and sensationalistic style of reporting.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 30, 3:44 p.m.

    One thing no one's ever answered for me is, if the officer fired the kill shot, then why did that officer bolt from a that moving patrol car like a scared rabbit to get away from it after the shot was fired.
    Were he guilty of the shooting, he'd have known he was in no personal danger and would have at least stopped the patrol car and probably parked it before leaving it.
    I'm sorry the kid is dead, but it was at his own hand and no one is responsible for it but him.
    Still, prayers for his loved ones because they're hurting regardless.

  • anneonymousone May 30, 3:39 p.m.

    I know a few young people who knew Chuy, and everything I read about this case makes it sadder and more confusing, not less. I say this without animosity or accusation; it's all just horrid.

    My best thoughts are with EVERYone involved in this sad case.

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