Local News

Family wants FBI probe of Durham PD after teen's death

Posted December 10, 2013

— The family of a 17-year-old who died while in police custody last month delivered to a local FBI office in Cary Tuesday a petition with more than 18,000 signatures demanding a federal investigation into the Durham Police Department.

Jesus Huerta 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.

His family and family representatives met with the FBI to ask that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate Huerta's death and possible "patterns and practices" of civil rights violations within the department.

"(The petition is) not just for investigating the death of the teenager Jesus Huerta," said Erica Scott Pacheco, a representative with Presente.org, an organization that represents the interests of Latino communities across the nation. "It's calling on justice for everyone here in Durham."

FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement that the agency "takes accusations of civil rights violations very seriously. The FBI will review the information provided by the Huerta family."

The State Bureau of Investigation is already looking into the circumstances of Huerta's death, and an internal police review is also underway.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez declined an interview Tuesday about the petition but said in a statement that his department has been "as forthcoming as we possibly can with respect to the information that can be released to the public."

He has previously said that he will provide more information about what happened once the SBI's investigation is complete.

"The family has the right to make such a request, and we respect that right," he said. "We are cooperating fully with the current independent investigation, and we will do likewise if there is a federal investigation."

Huerta's sister, Evelin Huerta, said the police chief offered last week to meet privately with Huerta's mother, but she declined because she didn't feel comfortable being alone with police after her son's death.

"We're here together, and if he didn't want to talk to all of us, he wasn't going to meet with any of us," Evelin Huerta said.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that Lopez reached out to the family but declined to comment further on the invitation.

State and local authorities won't comment on how Jesus Huerta 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. Huerta's family says a state investigator told them he had been shot in the head.

His 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 hour-long standoff in downtown Durham.

Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, 33, was fatally shot July 27 during a standoff with police, who say he came at them with a knife.

Durham County prosecutors received an SBI report into Ocampo's case on Monday and said Tuesday that they are thoroughly reviewing the findings to determine if any criminal charges should be filed in the case.


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  • tylera7707 Dec 11, 2013

    "I know officers are in a high stress, dangerous job, and I appreciate their service, I just wish they could relax a little if they stop someone for an expired tag or minor speed infraction."

    I have a good friend in law enforcement. He once relaxed a little on a simple seat belt stop on hwy 70. No speeding, no known warrants, just a simple seat belt in fraction. My friend was shot twice in the face, once in each hand, and I believe once in the shoulder. Just wanted to throw this out there.

  • Jump1 Dec 11, 2013

    Family needs to wait for the SBI investigation.

  • genralwayne Dec 11, 2013

    "I know officers are in a high stress, dangerous job, and I appreciate their service, I just wish they could relax a little if they stop someone for an expired tag or minor speed infraction."

    I did say that the few times that I got into trouble as a patrolman were when I showed any empathy for the person I WAS ARRESTING - loose or no handcuffs, incomplete pat down search, falling for a believable sob story, foolishly turning my back on a complainant spouse, etc.., On the other hand, more police officers are injured or killed responding to supposed nuisance calls or during simple traffic stops for things like expired tags or minor speed violations. We never know what is waiting for us in the car we just pulled over or the front door we knock on. A relaxed, unprepared cop is a dead cop.

  • A person Dec 11, 2013

    The chief of police offered to meet with the family, they declined. Hard to get answers if you refuse to meet with the person who is trying to give you some answers, or explain what is going on. Maybe they are trying to avoid being handed a bill for all the destruction they have caused due to their inadequate parenting skills

  • A person Dec 11, 2013

    American want the family deported. There that was easy, and took care of the entire problem

  • johnthompsonsr1 Dec 11, 2013

    When I was 18 a cop put me in the back of his car and he forgot that he left a shotgun in the backseat. I could have shot him or myself if I wanted to. Not saying this is what happened but it is possible.

  • dare107 Dec 11, 2013

    As I have said on here before Suicide is not a crime! The only time you see reports on suicide is if they are murder/suicides. Family is entitled to know but refused to meet with the police after their criminal behavior of vandalism of the police department!

  • Lightfoot3 Dec 11, 2013

    "Know the rules...Police don't just say the facts to the press or people right away" - mafiamic

    Especially if they have something to hide or cover up. But we usually get details much faster. Whenever there's a shooting, we know the shooter, type of gun, how many shots, who got shot, where the gun was bought, and all kinds of stuff within a day or two. It's going on a month now and this police dept has kept quiet. They wouldn't even admit it was a gunshot. The officer heard a loud noise and jumped out of the car? Really? Something ain't right.

  • shamir13 Dec 10, 2013

    Amen to meeper and The2ruthHurts!!! Well said

  • mafiamic Dec 10, 2013

    So the police keep saying NO OFFICER FIRED ANY SHOTS - but they have not told us what happened???? If the police did not kill him who did? Was it a suicide or did someone outside the vehicle shoot him? Just tell us! Who did it?
    Click to view my profile

    Know the rules...Police don't just say the facts to the press or people right away...There is a police investigation going on as well.Just like after other killings they need to get the facts before they can do anything without the perpetrator running off.
    Let the police do their job that is why they are police and you are not.for if you were there would be many innocent people in prison or dead costing the taxpayers many wasted money.