Mother of slain Durham man seeks answers from police department
Posted April 16, 2016
Durham, N.C. — 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.