Durham police to monitor vigil planned for teen
Posted December 19, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Friends and supporters of Jesus Huerta, a Durham teen who died in police custody in November, are planning to hold a rally outside of Durham Police Headquarters Thursday evening to show support for his family.
Huerta, 17, died in the back of a police cruiser on the morning of Nov. 19 after being picked up on an outstanding second-degree trespassing charge from July. Durham Police said he shot himself in the head after he had been searched, handcuffed and placed in the car.
Since Huerta's death, his friends and family members have held a rally and demanded a federal investigation into the Durham Police Department about Huerta's death and possible "patterns and practices" of civil rights violations within the department.
Although organizers said Wednesday that the latest planned rally will be peaceful, Durham police are planning to have extra officers on hand to keep the crowd away from the headquarters building and out of city streets, officials said in a statement. The vigil is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., and those in attendance are expected to march from CCB Plaza to Durham Police Headquarters.
Durham police released a statement Wednesday night, saying they tried unsuccessfully to contact Rafael Estrada Maya, the coordinator of the planned rally.
"While we obtained a telephone number for Maya, he declined to speak about the event and hung up," Deputy Chief Larry Smith said in a statement.
On Nov. 22, a rally designed to generate demonstrators about Huerta's death became unruly when people not associated with the initial gathering began to throw road flares, firecrackers and smoke bombs at Durham Police Headquarters.
Several windows were damaged at headquarters, and Police Chief Jose Lopez said the side window of an unoccupied police cruiser was also damaged.
On Thursday, those in attendance will not be allowed to impede or block traffic on streets near headquarters or access the parking lot or grassy areas near the building. Protesters will also not be allowed to have pyrotechnics, masks, hoods or any other items used to conceal a person's identity.
“If in the future, the Huerta family wishes to place a memorial or hold a vigil themselves on the parking lot of Police Headquarters, the police department is willing to work directly with them or through their attorney to make such arrangements,” Lopez said in a statement.
Huerta's death is the third since July involving a Durham police officer.
Derek Deandre Walker, 26, was killed in September when he pointed a gun at officers after an hourlong standoff in downtown Durham.
Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, 33, was fatally shot July 27 during a standoff with police, who said he came at them with a knife.