Local News

Mother of slain Durham man seeks answers from police department

Posted April 16, 2016

— The mother of a man shot and killed by Durham police says she wants officers held accountable for what she calls “excessive force.”

Shanika Biggs joined the NAACP on Saturday at a news conference in Durham, criticizing the police department’s response to her suicidal son, La’Vante Biggs.

According to police reports, La’Vante Trevon Biggs, 21, was armed with a pellet gun and threatened to commit suicide on Sept. 5 before being shot and killed by Durham police officers in the 1700 block of Angier Avenue around 10:30 a.m.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said Biggs pointed the weapon at authorities before officers opened fire.

“Our son, La’Vonte [Biggs], should be here today, but he isn’t,” Biggs said. “He did not have to die.”

An NAACP investigation criticized officers for not making enough attempts to verify whether the gun was real before firing on Biggs. The investigation also stated that officers were reckless when discharging their weapons, as six bullets entered the front room of Biggs’ occupied home.

The report said an officer radioed to ask if anyone had binoculars to have a closer look at the situation, but no one did. Biggs also allegedly put down the pellet gun three times, according to the investigation.

“I want to know why the police filled my baby’s body full of bullets when they could have helped him,” Biggs said.

The Durham Police Department issued a report five days after the shooting, which stated that officers conducted nearly an hour of negotiations. The report said Biggs made “aggressive steps” before he aimed the gun at an officer and ignored commands to drop the weapon.

“We want the Durham Police Department and the officers who shot and killed my baby to be charged and held accountable,” Biggs said.

Newly elected Durham City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson attended the news conference on Saturday.

“You know, I think it’s very concerning—the fact that the police had doubts that the gun was real, [and] the fact that police shot into an occupied residence.”

Wil Glenn, the Durham Police Department’s public affairs manager, told WRAL News that the department “has no comment at this point.”

Four officers were place on administrative duty as the State Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the shooting. The results of the SBI’s investigation have not been released.


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  • Phillip Mozingo Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    The time it takes police to "verify" whether a gun is real or not is all the time it takes for a police officer to die and it takes literally an uneducated fool to make such a remark. You raise a gun toward a police officer you get shot (period).

  • Michelle James Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    Sorry for her loss, but she needs to wake up and realize her sons actions where the reason for his death and noone elses. Again society needs to realize stop passing the buck. The police couldn't control his actions anymore than she did. Stop making a media circus out of her grief and start the healing process.

  • Doug Bogard Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Jesus would require the church to take care of the poor, instead of themselves. You remember when the church administered to the poor don't you?
    It was before they had the huge temples and large sums of cash.

  • Sam Jaber Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    Sounds like another case of suicide by cop!!!! Couldn't do it himself, so make the cops shoot and kill you!!!! And I also agree that at any time that individual could have put the weapon down and followed the officers instructions

  • Jason Pierce Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    I love when people make up stats. When a CIT officer responds to a call dealing with the mentally ill less then 20% of the time is force used and most of that is non-lethal. That number is prolly on high end too. I am sorry for the outcome of this story. I wish this young male could have received helped sooner before going into crisis.

  • Kim Plucker Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    Oh this is a big lesson for everyone no matter what color your skin is! DO NOT CALL THE POLICE IF SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS SUICIDAL OR YOU BELIEVE THEY ARE. They will 9 times out out 10 be shot or taken to jail.

  • chucksierra Apr 17, 2016

    Tax-payer relief shot!

  • Marty Martin Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    So much mental illness - WHILE the GOP governor and legislature refuse to expand Medicaid for the working poor.
    vote Democratic!

  • Jeffrey Derry Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    Moral of the story...do not I repeat do not point anything that resembles a gun at a law enforcement officer

  • Robert Malton Apr 17, 2016
    user avatar

    NAACP investigation criticized officers for not making enough attempts to verify whether the gun was real ...Are they that dumb, some point a weapon at you, there is no verifying you shoot them. The pellet and paint gun look real and officer can't wait to see if it fires a real bullet. NAACP doing what they do best get headlines and ask for donations. They don't care if they did they do something about all the black on black killings and gang violence other than blaming the police.