Local News

Arrests, tear gas end Durham vigil

Posted December 19, 2013
Updated December 20, 2013

Source: Twitter (David Freifeld)

— A vigil planned as a peaceful remembrance of a teen killed in police custody ended with tear gas and arrests Thursday night in downtown Durham.

About 200 friends and supporters of Jesus Huerta faced off with law enforcement officers one month after the teen died of a gunshot wound while in the back of a police cruiser. By evening's end, several of them were in police custody.

Huerta, 17, was picked up Nov. 19 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 demanded a federal investigation into the Durham Police Department about his death and possible "patterns and practices" of civil rights violations within the department.

"Chuy is with us," said Huerta's sister, Evelin Huerta, using his nickname. "Our brother is always with us and will never leave our side."

Although the assembly was billed as a peaceful event, Durham police massed in riot gear, with tear gas masks on their hips and billy clubs in hand, even before Huerta supporters arrived. By the end of the evening, several were under arrest, although police did not say how many or what their charges would be.

Before the vigil turned ugly, Huerta's friend Brandon Moreno promised Thursday's march would not end in the vandalism that marked an earlier march. On Nov. 22, protesters broke windows at police headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street.

"No violence because his family got mad about that. There is going to be no violence," Moreno said.

The vigil began with candlelight, signs and flowers. Gradually it got louder, with participants shouting obscenities to the beat of a drum as they marched from CCB Plaza to the police HQ. There, officers held the line and protesters reversed course.

When they returned to CCB Plaza, the gathered people got "disruptive," Chief Jose Lopez said, and officers demanded that the crowd disperse.

“Our primary concern was to protect the public as well as the protesters. Some arrests were made and officers were forced to deploy teargas to disperse the crowd after rocks and bottles were thrown at the police," Lopez said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the restraint and professionalism demonstrated by our officers tonight. This had the potential to be much worse,” he said.


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  • GETOUT Dec 20, 2013

    Ok here is the video again that this the kid could have done this.


    True the cop missed the gun, but why are you guys not asking why he had the gun? The residue was on his hands not the officers. Why are we not asking what was going on that made him feel the need to commit this act against himself?

    Durham PD is not hiding from any investigation State, Federal or otherwise. They have no reason too.

    Why does everyone feel the state or any individual agency is responsible for the actions of an arrestee? If a prisoner escapes from police or prison custody and gets hit by a car is it that agencies fault? No... Police or any other agency can not be held responsible unless they had a hand in the death. Like the guard in Wake county that just got convicted. But whatever a prisoner decides to do on his/her own accord while in custody is on that prisoner and that prisoner only.....

  • shortcake53 Dec 20, 2013

    Some people just dont know when to quit.....

  • handylaw2 Dec 20, 2013

    shortcake53 - I cannot "give it a rest" because there is no way that the young man could have retrieved his hidden gun and shoot himself in the head when the hands were cuffed behind himself.

  • handylaw2 Dec 20, 2013

    downtowner - How on Earth did he retrieve the gun and shoot himself in the head while the hands were cuffed behind him? I am not suggesting that the cop shot the young man. But the cop's version of how the young man was handcuffed in the back seat makes no sense. Moreover, the cop did not protect the young man who was in complete police custody.

  • shortcake53 Dec 20, 2013

    The report is out that gunshot residue is on the kid, NOT the officer. NOW give it a rest.

  • baldchip Dec 20, 2013

    SBI-how about fast tracking this investigation-please!! This needs to be settled before someone else ends up in the morgue.

    Obviously, their is not trust betweem this group of citizens and the Durham PD. Somehow-that gap needs to be bridged. City Council might need to get involved-while supporting your PD-they need to converse with this group of citizens!!

    My other question -are their outside agitators urging the violence to move forward?? This is a common occurance!

  • parichar77 Dec 20, 2013

    liveurownlifepeople, they were granted a permit to protest twice. How does this suggest we are headed toward marshall law? If people would just protest 'peacefully' and not break the law there would be no issue here.

  • parichar77 Dec 20, 2013

    Please folks, read up on the background and facts to this story before posting. Please take a few minutes to read about what has happened (and consider what is speculation and what is fact) and put it all together in your mind. There IS an ongoing independent investigation going on, no need to keep demanding one. The first demonstration had no provocation or show of force by DPD and yet there was trouble. I could go on. I am not even picking sides here just asking that we be aware of what we are commenting on.

  • scubagirl2 Dec 20, 2013

    "I believe things would have gone smoothly if the riot police were not there. "

    And I believe things would have gone smoothly IF only his family and friends had attended, not all the instigators.....

    I do NOT fault the police in any way from what I can read.

  • parichar77 Dec 20, 2013

    momeee, please read the info on the previous events related to this story. The last 'peaceful' protest ended with vandalism and trouble. The Durham PD did not show up in Riot gear for the first protest. They showed up in Riot gear after the first protest showed it might be necessary at the second.