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No charges filed against Durham officer in shooting death

Posted March 12, 2014

Derek Walker (Facebook photo)
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— The Durham County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday that no charges will be filed against a police officer in the fatal shooting last fall of a Durham man during a standoff on CCB Plaza.

Derek Deandre Walker, 26, was waving a gun and shouting on the downtown plaza on Sept. 17, police said. WRAL News video from the scene showed what appeared to be Walker repeatedly saying "shoot me" while pointing his gun at officers or at his head.

Walker had posted on his Facebook page earlier in the day that he was upset about a custody dispute over his 5-year-old son and that he hoped to die soon.

Police surrounded Walker on the plaza and tried to persuade him to drop his gun, but negotiations failed. After an hour-long standoff, Walker again pointed the gun at officers, and Cpl. R.C. Swartz shot Walker in the chest with a rifle.

Walker died on the way to Duke University Hospital.

District Attorney Leon Stanback said in a statement Wednesday that he reviewed a State Bureau of Investigation report on the shooting – it included 38 eyewitness statements, transcripts of 911 calls, interviews with people who knew Walker and his Facebook posts – and determined there was no probable cause to charge Swartz in the shooting.

Swartz, who joined the Durham Police Department in 2001 and is assigned to the Special Operations Division, was on administrative leave with pay for several weeks after the shooting. He returned to regular duty in November.

The report was the third and final SBI investigation of police-involved shootings in Durham since last summer. No charges were filed in the July shooting death of Jose Ocampo or the November death of Jesus Huerta in police custody, although investigators are taking a second look at Huerta's death after receiving an anonymous tip.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 13, 2014

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    What are you talking about? Does the picture of this disturbed man just not fit your own stereotype? What about WRAL's picture of him brandishing the gun?

    And, the title of this story is simply "No charges filed against Durham officer in shooting death". It's a fact. Beyond this, any implication is of your own creation.

  • LetsBeFair Mar 12, 2014

    Why is the criminal's picture made to look like a victim? And why is the title made to look like the officer was the criminal that got away with something?

  • jackaroe123 Mar 12, 2014

    If you're talking about a spontaneous, quick situation, I agree, but they had hours to deal w/ this, and in that time, I do think another option should have been available. Mr. Walker posed approximately the same level threat that entire time, standing there brandishing a gun. Had a sniper attempted to shoot him in the head w/ a rubber bullet (rubber bullets are real, and used expressly for situations where a nonlethal shooting is feasible), the worst thing that could have happened is that it didn't work and Mr. Walker would have chosen that moment to point the gun at someone. If he was allowed to stand there as long as he was, I don't think whether he pointed a gun at someone right then or later was really the point.

  • loj68 Mar 12, 2014

    Yup, no other choice so good call. As someone stated there is no such thing as shooting to "wound". If you miss, you may have signed your own death warrant. Bullets are made only to kill and firing one with anything other than intent to kill is pointless, ineffective, and possibly suicidal.

  • Chris Vet Mar 12, 2014
    user avatar

    This is the right call as the officer made the right decision before Derek shot someone.

  • jackaroe123 Mar 12, 2014

    I'm very surprised it took this long to arrive at this (correct) decision regarding the specific officer who fired the shot. What I think does deserve ongoing consideration is the procedure. This wasn't a sudden situation. It was a lengthy stand-off. The worst thing that could have happened was that Mr. Walker could have hurt someone else. The second worst thing is exactly what did happen. I would have liked a rubber bullet to the head choice first. The worst thing that could have happened as a result is that Mr. Walker might have done exactly what he did, which officers were prepared for. The risk of another person being hurt would have been about the same as allowing him to stand there w/ a gun for hours, and the possibility of also preventing Mr. Walker's death would have been improved tremendously.

    I'm glad that the individual officer was exonerated, however overdue. I don't think other charges or civil suits are warranted. I do think a procedural change should be considered.

  • millerbri66 Mar 12, 2014

    It seems to me this guy wanted to die, regardless of how it happened. I wish someone had attempted to talk to him sooner, or he had sought help of another kind. My prayers to this mans child and family.

  • REPUBLICAN HANS Mar 12, 2014

    The title of this story leads one to immediately believe the officer was in the wrong. Figures...

  • Lamborghini Mercy Mar 12, 2014

    This young man accomplished what he set out to do that day and no one could talk him down. When you walk around waving a handgun in a public area and prove to be a threat to yourself and others, officers do what they are trained to do.

  • Chad Hines Mar 12, 2014
    user avatar

    Unsure why this is news.

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