Police, neighbors differ in account of shooting in McDougald Terrace
Posted November 23, 2016
Durham, N.C. — 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.