Durham leaders will rely on SBI report after teen's police custody death
Posted November 25, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said Monday that the city and police department are reviewing training policies after a 17-year-old boy died last week while in police custody.
But Bonfield said it's still too early to comment on what should change, if anything, until the city receives the results of an outside review by the State Bureau of Investigation.
"Until I get more information, I think it would not be fair for me to make a judgment," he said.
Bonfield added that he plans to make the results of the SBI review public, although it's unclear when the investigation will be complete.
"As soon as we know something, we're going to communicate it, whatever it is – good or bad, favorable or unfavorable," he said. "Unless we’re directed by some judicial action or some other laws that prevents that from occurring, I’m committed to that. I believe the mayor and City Council are also."
Bonfield's comments come on the heels of a protest Friday night in downtown Durham after Jesus Huerta, whose funeral was Monday, died in the back of a police cruiser on the morning of Nov. 19.
He was picked up on an outstanding second-degree trespassing charge from July after family members in a 911 call reported concerns for his safety.
State and local authorities won't comment on how the teen died, saying only that they are awaiting the results of an autopsy and that it did not appear to be the result of an officer-involved shooting.
Recordings of radio traffic between an officer and police dispatch, however, indicate shots were fired and that there was a gunshot wound.
It's the frustration from a lack of answers that prompted people to take to Durham's streets Friday during which they called for a new police chief and some got arrested and others broke windows and damaged police cruisers.
Huerta's death is the third since July involving a Durham police officer.
Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, 33, was fatally shot July 27 during a standoff with police, and Derek Deandre Walker, 26, was killed in September when he pointed a gun at officers after an hourlong standoff in downtown Durham.
Those cases are also under investigation by the SBI.
"I have yet to see anything that tells me something needs to change," Bonfield said. "It doesn’t mean that when presented with facts that might not be the case, but I don’t want to go into this with preconceived notions about anything."