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Police: Man fatally shot by Durham officers brandished pellet gun

Posted September 10, 2015

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— A Durham man threatening to commit suicide pointed a pellet gun at police officers last weekend before he was shot and killed, according to a police department report released Thursday.

La'Vante Trevon Biggs, 21, called 911 on Saturday morning and hung up, and when dispatchers called back, his mother said he was sitting on the porch pointing a "big black gun" at his head, according to the five-day report, which the Durham Police Department issues in any officer-involved shooting.

Officers responded to 1702 Angier Ave. and repeatedly tried to persuade him to put down the gun, but he would instead point it at his head or put the barrel in his mouth, the report states.

"At one point, officers asked (his mother) if the gun was real, and she told them, 'Yes, it is real,'" the report states. "She also told officers 'that there was nothing we could say or do, she stated she knew he was not going to back down,' an officer reported."

After close to an hour of negotiations, Biggs made what officers described as "fast steps" or "aggressive steps toward one of them, pointing the gun at the officer and refusing to obey commands to drop it, so four officers fired at total of 12 shots at him, according to the report.

"It was only upon collecting evidence that officers learned that Biggs’ gun was a replica Airsoft air gun, which closely resembled a real gun," the report states.

Officers Richard Armstrong, Landon Harvey, Anthony Cisternas and Jason Holmes have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of reviews of the case by the Durham Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation, which is standard procedure.

Biggs had been released from jail on bond earlier that morning following a Friday arrest on a charge of injury to personal property.

His mother told police that he had been depressed about a recent breakup and not seeing his children, according to the five-day report.


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  • Tyrone Bigg Sep 11, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Your snarky comment aside, I've seen multiple articles on WRAL and other local new stations' websites where a family member of someone mentioned in an article has commented. Next time keep your inane thoughts to yourself.

  • Jim Hinnant Sep 11, 2015
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    Yes - WRAL - make it appear they knew or could know it was a "pellet" gun.

  • Steve Thompson Sep 10, 2015
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    Susan West; Thank you for your kind words, no doubt all the families involved will come here, to the WRAL comment section in hopes of finding peace and healing.

  • Susan West Sep 10, 2015
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    So so sad for everyone involved. Prayers for this young man's family and the officers involved.

  • Sarcoi Dosis Sep 10, 2015
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    He chose to commit Suicide by Cop.
    The officers responded properly.
    Sadly, they will have to live with what La'Vante forced them to do.
    If you are going to kill yourself, be a man and don't force officers to do the job for you. They shouldn't Bear the burden of your choices.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Sep 10, 2015
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    I fault WRAL for a provocative headline on this follow up story. The current wording makes for bad thoughts about the poor police that had to shoot the man. WRAL is deliberate in their wording.

  • Norman Lewis Sep 10, 2015
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    A police officer may have split seconds to determine is someone is a threat to them and realistically, anything resembling a gun pointed in their direction , particularly when that person has been threatening suicide with it, has to be assumed to be dangerous. No time to wait and see. Sounds like a "suicide by cop". My sympathies to the family of this disturbed man and to the police that had to take a life to protect their own.

  • Dave Buzzkill Sep 10, 2015
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    Wait for it... Al Sharpton and "Reverend" will be all over this. This is police brutality. Those cops should have known that it was just a BB gun!

  • Roy Jones Sep 10, 2015
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    Pray for both family involved. People please do as the police say then have your day in court with an attorney then if you felt you were treated wrong TELL YOUR attorney do not take matters in your own hands

  • Bigman BlackandDecker Sep 10, 2015
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    sooo.... we should feel sorry for the guy?