Local News

Police report on teen's death to be made public

Posted January 6
Updated January 10

— The Durham Police Department’s report on the death of Jesus Huerta, a teenager who reportedly shot himself in the head while he was in police custody, will be made public on Friday, Durham Mayor Bill Bell said. A press conference is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m.

Watch the press conference live on WRAL.com.

Bell, the City Council and the city manager met behind closed doors Monday evening to discuss the internal investigation into the Nov. 19 shooting and seek advice from the city attorney about what is appropriate to release publicly.

"I also am mindful of the family that's involved and would hope that we would give them an opportunity to see the report as we release it, so they don't read about it in the newspaper," Bell said Monday morning.

Bell said before Monday's meeting that he didn't expect the report to answer all the questions surrounding Huerta's death.

Alex Charns, attorney for the Huerta family, questioned whether the city was going to release the entire report, including any witness interviews, photographs, video and communications.

"One cannot judge what one has not received," Charns said in a statement. "We will withhold judgment about the report until we receive the report, in its entirety, without redaction or information withheld."

Police Chief Jose Lopez has said the 17-year-old shot himself after he had been searched, handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car after an officer picked him up on an outstanding trespassing charge.

Huerta's family and friends, however, are not convinced by the police department's explanation.

A spokesman for Huerta's family said Monday that the family has asked to see the full internal affairs report. He added that the family has not yet decided if it would attend Monday afternoon's meeting.

Huerta's death has prompted two protest marches, including one on Dec. 19 that ended with six people being arrested after police in riot gear used tear gas to disperse a crowd.

Friends and family have also called for a federal investigation into the Durham Police Department about possible "patterns and practices" of civil rights violations within the department.

The state chapter of the NAACP will hold a separate news conference at 3 p.m. to discuss the release of the report and other concerns the group says it has about police actions. 

"The N.C. NAACP believes that all citizens must be treated fairly, equally and with respect," NAACP Legal Redress Committee Chairman Irv Joyner said in a statement. "Transparency and accountability are essential to ensuring this goal is achieved, especially for the Huerta family and their community, but also on an ongoing basis."

The internal investigation isn't the only one in the case. Last week, the State Bureau of Investigation submitted its report to the Durham County District Attorney's Office for review.

Prosecutors, however, are awaiting the results of Huerta's autopsy report before deciding how to proceed in the case.

51 Comments

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  • Lightfoot3 Jan 10, 1:55 p.m.

    "Is there any way to use the serial number of a gun to track down the owner if it was not reported as stolen?" - Kaitlyn


    It can give us some history. But so far the police have been unwilling to even report what kind of gun it was. If it comes back as anything other than a small or very compact pistol, I'm going to call BS on the police version of events.

  • lopo Jan 10, 11:40 a.m.

    This kid might not have been a contributor to society or a role model, but once in cutody it is the responsibility of the law enforcement to protect his prisoner at all times.

  • Kaitlyn Jan 10, 11:25 a.m.

    Is there any way to use the serial number of a gun to track down the owner if it was not reported as stolen?

  • A person Jan 10, 10:22 a.m.

    [quote=13286919]Post by GETOUT[/quote
    No one is blaming anyone except the kid. Who else would there be to place blame for his actions? No one else shot themselves in the back od=f that car, so who else could possibly be to blame?? And blame for what, he kid being instable?? Certain not he cops fault he was instable

  • ncprr1 Jan 10, 9:40 a.m.

    "Don't know who is worse, the lawyers or the media trying to pursue an agenda or money at the expense of others' pain." DISGUSTED2010

    You hit the nail on the head. It is sad that the kid committed suicide but it is worse watching the media and the usual community agitators scrambling to figure out a way to use his death to push their twisted agendas.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 10, 8:52 a.m.

    Just make the daggone thing public already! We should have had the majority of the details within the first week. Just look at how much info we get when there's a shooting in the news. Something very fishy going on with this one. If this is just a CYA from the cop not doing a proper search, I think they went way overboard.

  • GETOUT Jan 9, 7:31 p.m.

    If the kid didnt have a gun or feel the need to have a gun he would still be alive. He created the threat by having the gun. He needs to bear just as much of the blame as anyone.

  • IcebergSlim Jan 9, 5:53 p.m.

    If the investigation shows that the young man did shoot himself as the officers reported the officers should definitely be admonished for not searching him properly but they are not reponsible for his death. He is responsible. If the same young man killed himself in his parents living room or in his bedroom would we be blaming the parents for his death? I highly doubt it. People love to have someone to blame for everything instead of putting the blame where it belongs: on whoever pulled the trigger

  • Justic4All Jan 9, 4:43 p.m.

    Prosecutors, however, are awaiting the results of Huerta's autopsy report before deciding how to proceed in the case

    Since the Police Chief said he shot himself in the head, obviously the kid should be charged with murder and tried as an adult. ??? Tax payers actually pay for this waste? Do the DA's book a conference room and mull this over while drinking expensive, fancy sounding coffee and eating pastries from the around the corner specialty shop? They discuss whether the case is strong enough for murder or they'll just have to go with the suicide plea?

  • disgusted2010 Jan 9, 4:20 p.m.

    Don't know who is worse, the lawyers or the media trying to pursue an agenda or money at the expense of others' pain.

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