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Police Shootings on Rise in Durham

Posted January 18, 2008

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— Two people are dead and a third is injured – all shot by Durham police officers. In the past three months, there have been as many officer-involved shootings in Durham as the city usually has in a year.

The most recent was this week, when an off-duty officer shot Asaad Scott's brother.

“I don't think that it was necessary to shoot,” Scott said Friday.

Police say Willard Scott drew a gun on a group of people at an apartment complex, then pointed it at officers when they confronted him. His brother isn't so sure that is an accurate version of the story.

“Seeing that this isn't not only the first incident or the second, it kind of makes you uneasy about police,” Scott said.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez sees things very differently.

“I've had three officers whose lives were at risk,” Lopez said.

Lopez said it is disturbing to have three officer-related shootings in three months. He insists that the reason for the number of incidents is too many illegal guns on the streets.

“One thing that I find unsettling is the fact that these officers are encountering individuals who are armed and who apparently have a propensity to use it,” Lopez said.


The State Bureau of Investigation is looking at all three of the shootings, which is standard procedure when police use their guns. Lopez said he is confident those investigations will find the officers did nothing wrong.

“It's quite clear they were engaged by individuals who were armed and who were intent on committing a crime,” the chief said.

Lopez now plans to beef up the police unit dedicated to investigating crimes involving guns.

As for his officers' actions, Lopez says firing a weapon is always a last resort. It is, however, a step officers will take if their lives or others’ lives are in danger, he added.

Willard Scott was a convicted felon and by law was not supposed to have a gun.

While the investigation goes on, the three officers involved are all on administrative duty, also standard procedure.

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  • MarcoPolo Jan 21, 2008

    DPD should not be issued guns. 6pm....downtown...major thoroughfare...shooting at a moving car. The perp wasn't shooting at the cop. What good can come from that?????

    Let's cause a major pile-up. If I was in another car that was in that serious accident caused by the DPD, I would sue them like >>>.

    For all other law enforcement agencies, I would agree with them using "deadly force" but we're talking about Durham. I'm just as worried about the racist cops (and their bosses) more than I am the gangs.

    Once again Durham has "sucked the smart" right out of people who are normally have some common sense.

  • Eduardo1 Jan 21, 2008

    NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING, IT IS WONDERFUL TO HAVE A BOSS
    BACK THE EMPLOYEE. YOU CAN NOT HAVE SLEEZE RUN THE STREETS. POLICE CAN NOT AFFORD TO SEE WHETHER THE BAD GUY IS GOING TO SHOOT. PEOPLE COMPLAIN IF POLICE USE: GUNS, CLUBS, TASER, ETC.
    LETS GET RID OF THE POLICE AND HIRE CLERGYMEN TO PATROL THE STREETS AND SEE WHAT A DROP IN CRIME OCCURS

  • twc Jan 21, 2008

    I agree with the majority of the posters! Don't give the police a reason to shoot and you're probably not going to be shot! Better the bad guy than the good guy!

  • PikeMom4real Jan 21, 2008

    Good going Lopez,hope all the officers make it home safe after having to work in such an enviroment.So give these officers Xtra BULLETS for the job.

  • Tired Of Excuses Jan 21, 2008

    WRAL I am disappointed. Who's side are you on? With that kind of headline, you make it sound like the Durham PD are the bad guys. Do you have any idea what they deal with on a day to day basis? Criminals with GUNS who aren't afraid to use them. If a criminal has a gun, he's not there for show and tell. I say shoot first and ask questions later. It's no secret that the Durham PD has their work cut out for them they could use a little more media support.

  • linnway Jan 21, 2008

    With the crime in Durham as of lately, the criminals are going to have to expect tougher forces. I am so repulsed by the crime in Durham, I'd probably agree to the shoot now, ask later theory. OK, so that is a bit far stretched, but good for the cops for making an effort. If you didn't read about this, you'd be asking where are the cops and why aren't they doing something about the crime?

  • thepeopleschamp Jan 21, 2008

    This is a better headline than "Police Getting Shot On The Rise In Durham" would be.

  • kitelover110 Jan 21, 2008

    The solution to the police shootings is real simple - don't point a gun (knife, etc) at the cops and they won't shoot you.

  • Timbo Jan 21, 2008

    Durham ought to do what Raleigh does; cover up police shootings. Which reminds me, any news on the "investigation" of the the man that was shoot for growing marijuana?