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Police, neighbors differ in account of shooting in McDougald Terrace

Posted November 23

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— Two very different versions of what happened Tuesday afternoon in Durham's McDougald Terrace community were circulating, an example of tensions between that community and the Durham Police Department.

Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis said three officers – Charles Barkley, Monte Southerland and Christopher Goss – stopped to talk to Frank Nathaniel Clark, 34, when he reached for a gun in his waistband and they heard a shot.

Two witnesses told WRAL News that, while Clark might have had a weapon, he did not reach for it or fire it before he was killed. Police found a gun not belonging to the Durham Police Department near his body, Davis said.

"He (the officer) saw a gun on his waist, and he yelled 'gun' and pushed him away from him, and that's when the other officer shot him," a witness, who did not want to be identified, said.

Clark had a long criminal record, including charges of assault, trespassing and drug possession dating to 1999, according to court records. His most recent conviction – on charges of drug and weapons possession – resulted in a five-year jail sentence. He got out in April 2015.

Davis said she didn't know if Clark and the officers knew each other, but she did say the three officers are "very familiar" with that area, where patrols have been stepped up in response to recent criminal activity.

Neighbors said they have felt intimidated by police prior to Clark's death, and his girlfriend went so far as to call Barkley a "crooked cop."

The three officers were placed on administrative assignment, and the State Bureau of Investigation will investigate the shooting, standard procedure after an officer fires a weapon in the line of duty.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell, who learned of the incident during a city work session, asked residents to withhold judgment until all the facts come out.

"I understand that people will protest," Bell said. "That's the nature of our community and society now. But I would still hope they wait until we can have a complete investigation. People are going to protest, and as long as it's done peacefully, no one has a problem with that, and hopefully that'll be the case in this situation."

Bell said the use of body cameras by police – approved on Monday by the Durham City Council – will help shed light in future instances where stories vary. Those cameras should begin rolling out in January.

10 Comments

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  • Anita Gibson Nov 23, 10:38 p.m.
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    And they will never accept the findings regardless of what is determined. I will never understand how a career criminal can be a good man and father. It seems if he was he would have been striving to teach his kids how NOT to live your life, by leading by living a life that doesn't involve drugs, assaults and weapons. Guns on felons tend to make officers react, especially when said felon is reaching around his pants. How about stop breaking the law? How about, if you're a convicted felon, you not carry a gun? Even better, how about not fighting with police and comply with a lawful order? Apparently it is much too hard.

  • Matt Clinton Nov 23, 4:19 p.m.
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    Have the #BLM buses started rolling yet, or is the bloom off that rose since the election is over?

  • Kris Dawn Nov 23, 3:29 p.m.
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    "Justice or else"? Or else what?
    You going to destroy/loot your own city/neighborhood?

    I swear folks are just waiting for this stuff to happen. Some people are going to have an amazing Christmas after this "protest".

    I still love how many people were at the scene within minutes - that right there shows you people are just waiting for stuff to go down.

    Go to work - stop causing trouble - and there will be none of this nonsense. It literally is that easy.

    Each shooting gets more and more dramatic and there are 15 different stories.

    Again - there was a shooting in Lumberton - why isn't that getting much coverage? And still I stress the shooting the Charlotte - the black NCSHP who shot the "deaf" guy - why was there no protest then? Ridiculous.

  • Dennis Midkiff Nov 23, 1:17 p.m.
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    So dindu nuffin?

  • Randall Lamm Nov 23, 12:30 p.m.
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    Here we go again.
    "Hands Up,Don't Shoot"
    Glad the officers are safe.

  • Marilyn Loftin Nov 23, 12:11 p.m.
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    Great post Matt Nickeson!

  • Matt Nickeson Nov 23, 11:44 a.m.
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    This may just be the moment that the media and SJWs have jumped the shark. Three black officers working for a black sheriff kill a black career criminal and it is somehow racial? But then again, that would assume that anything resembling sanity and reason can prevail. I won't be holding my breath.

  • John White Nov 23, 11:34 a.m.
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    Strange how these people always seem to see when police shoot criminals and are able to recall so much. Yet when a crime actually happens and one of their own kills one of their own no one see's anything??? I find that just so unbelievable! Does not anyone else seem to think this is strange? Not even these people?

  • Danielle Cockrum Nov 23, 11:33 a.m.
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    She saw it all from her open window... as windy and cold as it was on Tuesday? Who in the world was going to be "neighbor watchin" by an open window?

    All I can say is thank heavens none of the cops were white. Man had a criminal record, gun was found 'near him'.

    #1 rule when interacting with the police: NO sudden movements, everybody knows that. They couldn't pay me enough to be a cop considering what they have to put up with.

  • Ethan Mathews Nov 23, 11:08 a.m.
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    Of course they differ, just like Michael Brown's little buddy said he had his hands up and was shot in the back....hhhmmmm