Local News

Durham police to monitor vigil planned for teen

Posted December 19, 2013

— 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.

48 Comments

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  • Jump1 Dec 19, 6:56 p.m.

    , for one, hope these fine people are able to have their vigil in peace with no police harassment to mourn the loss of this young man and bring attention to his suspicious death and the epidemic of police abuse across this nation. What is suspicious about it? They have said what happened. Good idea about ICE being there.

  • phantom51 Dec 19, 5:38 p.m.

    it is so good for the "good people" of Durham who jump on the Police bandwagon every time they shoot someone, frame someone or just do an illegal search to realize one thing..police do lie. There are plenth of folks in jail who absolutely nothing.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 19, 5:24 p.m.

    Seriously, how will Muslim women attend this event wearing a burka?...if the police are banning hoods. Do they get an exception and if so, why?

  • Mr. Hans Dec 19, 4:56 p.m.

    "ICE Agents should be on hand to arrest and deport all the illegal aliens they find in attendance." - jamesjohnson391
    December 19, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    Wow. Just wow.

    I, for one, hope these fine people are able to have their vigil in peace with no police harassment to mourn the loss of this young man and bring attention to his suspicious death and the epidemic of police abuse across this nation.

  • shawn36003 Dec 19, 3:30 p.m.

    I agree with jamesjohnson391....ICE Agents, check everyone's status so as not to offend anyone.

  • Minarchist Dec 19, 3:20 p.m.

    I cant help but think that if this kid had been given this much attention by his family while he was alive, he wouldnt have been in trouble so much. Too bad it took him killing himself to get their attention.
    Click to view my profileshortcake53
    December 19, 2013 2:37 p.m.
    [abuse] Report abuse

    Where this killing himself coming from? Because the police dept said it? Thats insane. Show us proof. Should be easy. Thanks

  • Minarchist Dec 19, 3:19 p.m.

    The kid had issues, shot himself. - A PERSON

    Proof please. Thank you. An "officer said" is not proof.

  • A person Dec 19, 3:09 p.m.

    Since there is NO permit for this event, I would arrest each and everyone that shows up for it. If they want to have a riot, let them do it at their place

  • jamesjohnson391 Dec 19, 3:08 p.m.

    ICE Agents should be on hand to arrest and deport all the illegal aliens they find in attendance.

  • Reformed Liberal Dec 19, 3:03 p.m.

    This kid must be Houdini to be able to hide the gun from the police search, access the gun and shoot himself in the head while cuffed behind his back. This for 2nd degree trespassing?

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