Durham residents question whether fatal police shooting was justified
Posted February 16
Durham, N.C. — A day after Durham police shot and killed a man while trying to arrest him on outstanding warrants, people in the neighborhood where the shooting took place said Thursday that they want more answers from police.
Kenneth Lee "Simba" Bailey Jr., 24, was wanted on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony conspiracy after he failed to show up for a court hearing last week, which violated the terms of his pre-trial release, police said.
Officers T.M. Greathouse and A.G. D’Meza and Cpl. J.E. Lloyd were looking for Bailey Wednesday afternoon in the Club Boulevard public housing complex on Glenbrook Drive when he ran from them, Police Chief C.J. Davis said. Bailey pulled a gun from his waistband, turned and pointed it at the officers, who then shot him, Davis said.
A gun that was reported stolen in December was found near Bailey's body, she said.
Some people who live on Glenbrook Drive and who know Bailey take issue with the police version of events, saying he would never have tried to hurt anybody.
"I just don’t understand. This man was not trying to hurt you guys," said Melanie Dantzler, Bailey's former girlfriend.
Dantzler said Bailey told her last weekend that he had a premonition of being killed by police.
"They have been harassing him. It’s not like out of the blue," she said.
A woman from the neighborhood who identified herself only as Linda said she didn't see Bailey with a gun.
"That young man wouldn’t have had a chance to pull a gun. Look how close they was on him," she said. "They could’ve caught that child. They could’ve cornered him off ... That was wrong. It’s wrong."
Others said they felt the shooting was justified.
"From what I saw, as far as I'm concerned, police followed protocol," said Will Smith, who said he knew Bailey and knows some of his relatives.
The Durham Police Department began rolling out body cameras for officers in December, but none of the three officers involved in the shooting had a body camera.
"I would honestly say, if I'm a police officer and I'm here to protect you, and if I tell you to put down the gun and you don't put the gun down, I'm going home to my wife tonight. I'm sorry," Smith said. "These officers are out here performing a duty nobody else wants to do, and nobody understands that these cops are seeing the worst of the worst out here in the streets."
Bailey's criminal record dates to 2009 and includes convictions on drug charges, possession of stolen goods, carrying a concealed weapon and speeding to elude arrest. He was last in prison more than two years ago, according to state Department of Public Safety records.
In 2014, he was charged with trying to elude police, resisting arrest and robbery. He rolled a car on Durham's downtown loop and jumped out, leaving two women and a young boy inside, before stealing another car. He was found guilty in federal court of carjacking, but the conviction was later overturned on appeal because there was no evidence that he had used a gun to steal the car, according to court documents.
His most recent charges stemmed from an August incident in which he allegedly stole thousands of dollars in cash and electronics and threatened a man with a gun. A judge set Bailey's bond at $250,000 in October, but he was out on the street a month later when he gave a bondsman $200 to post bail for him, according to court documents.
Authorities said Thursday that Bailey was on electronic monitoring that required him to be at home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. while out on bond. He called the monitoring service Tuesday evening to say that he had to take a family member to the hospital, but when he didn't return by 2 a.m. Wednesday and didn't return phone calls, authorities issued an order for his arrest.
They said they later determined he was at various locations throughout Durham on Tuesday and spent the night at a hotel.
Bailey, who also faced a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, was set to go to trial in May on the robbery and conspiracy charges.
Residents of the Club Boulevard housing complex said Bailey was a frequent visitor to the neighborhood, and they often saw him playing with his two young sons.
"When he was over there, he was respectful to people in the neighborhood. He was respectful to us," Smith said.
"He had a beautiful smile that lit up the room anytime he came in," Dantzler said. "Everybody has their demons that they’re fighting, but he was trying to change. All he wanted to do was provide for his family."
On Thursday morning, she said, she went to the spot where he was killed to say her goodbyes.
"I went up there, and I got to say my little words to him. So, I feel like I’m at peace, but there’s no justice," she said.
All three police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of a State Bureau of Investigation review of the case, which is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings.
Greathouse has been with the Durham Police Department since September 2003, while Lloyd joined the Department in August 2005 and D’Meza in August 2006.
Bailey's death marks the second fatal shooting involving Durham police in less than three months. Frank Nathaniel Clark, 34, was killed on Nov. 22 in a struggle with officers at the McDougald Terrace public housing complex.