Body of man shot, killed by Raleigh officer returned to family
Posted March 2, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — The family of a man who was shot and killed on Monday by a Raleigh police officer received his body from the medical examiner on Wednesday. They hope this will bring them closer to knowing exactly what happened to 24-year-old Akiel Denkins.
"I just hope that the truth comes out in the end," said Yvette Cross, Denkins' cousin. "No one knows the truth right now but the Raleigh Police Department, and I hope justice is served."
Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy shot and killed Denkins, a drug suspect fleeing arrest, behind a home at 117 S. East St., near the intersection of Bragg and East streets, police said.
Denkins, who was black, had been convicted three times on drug offenses, according to the state Department of Public Safety. There were pending charges against him from last fall of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and probation violations. Sources have told WRAL News that Denkins was a known gang member.
The 29-year-old Twiddy, who is white, has been employed with the department since 2009. He has been placed on administrative leave, pending the completion of internal and outside investigations.
Bishop Darnell Dixon spoke with Denkins' family Wednesday afternoon, after his body was returned to his loved ones.
"We just want the truth," he said. "(His mother) was happy, it brought some closure, this is my child."
The Wake County District Attorney's Office said a preliminary autopsy report has been completed, but the results will not be released until the investigation is complete.
In the meantime, community members say they are skeptical about what the results of the investigation will show.
"It will not help. It will not make a difference because those who are in a position of making things happen, or making changes happen, are not going to do it," said a neighbor.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said, regardless of the circumstances, Denkins should not have run from officers.
"Right or wrong, comply with the police officer. If he had just complied that day, he wouldn't be dead," Harrison said.
On Wednesday morning, a prayer vigil was held at Vintage Church in Raleigh in memory of Denkins.
"It was beautiful," Rolanda Byrd, Denkins' mother, said. "I appreciate it. They said kind words that I needed to hear today."
The three dozen people at the church gathered around Byrd at the end of the vigil to offer support as she begins to plan her son's funeral, though she said she didn't know about the vigil until Wednesday morning.
"I decided to get my family together to be here," Byrd said, "because the funeral proceedings that I have to go through today, I feel like I needed the prayer."
Following the vigil, a group of pastors and Raleigh city leaders met to discuss how to best handle the community's reaction to the killing. Some have expressed sadness, while other have expressed frustration.
"The community is as calm as possible, considering everything that is going on," said William Cooper III, who lives in the neighborhood.
Caleb Williams, who lives near Bragg Street and called Denkins a close friend, said he believes people in the community will remain calm for their own safety.
"We are on a peace treaty," he said. "If we come with violence, there ain't going to be nothing but more violence. That means more youth being taken off the streets. That is something they are already trying to achieve."
On Tuesday, leaders from the NAACP called for an impartial and transparent investigation into the shooting, and people took to the streets of downtown Raleigh that evening in protest.
The Raleigh Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit is conducting an administrative investigation into whether any departmental policies were violated. By law, the department is required to provide the city manager with a report of its findings within five business days.
The State Bureau of Investigation is handling a separate investigation.
A funeral for Denkins will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at the Bible Way Temple on Holmes Street in Raleigh.