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Retired Raleigh officer: Community, city at crucial crossroads

Posted March 1

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— As tensions simmer in a south Raleigh community where 24-year-old Akiel Rakim Lakeith Denkins was shot and killed Monday afternoon by a police officer, a retired officer offers a unique perspective.

Robert Wagner used to patrol the area near where the fatal shooting took place, including Bragg, East and Bloodworth streets. Wagner went on to produce and star in an award-winning film titled "Bragg N East," which looks at the dynamic relationship between police officers and the community they patrol.

Wagner was one of the first people to arrest Denkins years ago, and he spoke to him at length about turning his life around.

"I remember telling Akiel, 'Akiel, you've got everything going for you,'" Wagner said.

Wagner said that, when he heard about Denkins' death, his heart broke.

According to Wagner, the city of Raleigh is now at a crossroads when it comes to community and police relations.

"We can either go down a path of success and revitalization and become a strong community, or we can go down a road of deconstruction," he said. "That is the only way it is going to work, if we come together as cops and a community to rebuild the situation."

Wagner, who worked for the Raleigh Police Department for seven years, said he used to give arrest citations and respond to 911 calls. But soon, he learned to use another tool - one he did not carry on his duty belt.

"Unconditional love," Wagner said. "I remember being flicked off, cussed at, spat at, all those other things, but there was that pursuit of love."

Gradually, Wagner got to know those he served and protected in the community. And after retiring from the force, he made his award-winning film about his experiences.

"I love everybody here," he said of the neighborhood he once patrolled.

Coincidentally, the name of the film, "Bragg N East," is the same intersection where Denkins was killed.

The officer who shot Denkins has been identified as 29-year-old D.C. Twiddy. A seven-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department, he has been placed on administrative leave, pending the completion of internal and outside investigations.

12 Comments

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  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 8, 2016
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    Does she ever answer questions?
    Do you ever stick your nose into other's conversations?

    Her vitriol only outshines your being judgemental. Knowing my name doesn't change that aspect of you one iota.

  • Matt Nickeson Mar 4, 2016
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    Do you ever not attack people? At least have the courage to post your vitriol under your own name. Coward.

  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 3, 2016
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    How many reformed criminals do you know?
    How many troubled youth do you know who overcame their situations?
    Are you involved with social workers in Durham? Where did you get this "batting average"?
    Why are you discussing Durham when it's a Raleigh situation?

    Any answers?

  • Sonja Yagel Mar 2, 2016
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    If you follow the 10 Commandments you will most likely not be bothered by the police. God changes lives if a person is willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Don't be scared of me Jacob, God will have the last say for all of us. Then you may fear Him.

  • Jacob Ferrell Mar 2, 2016
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    I can't believe what you said. "Rearing children in a God-fearing home deters a lot of kids from going the wrong way. The black community has got to realize the way they raise their children, there is something missing and its the family unit." You are aware that the majority of prison inmates are Christian right? How many guys in prison documentaries do you see with tattoos of crosses? Are you saying Jewish children or Muslim children are more likely to be deviants because they don't have the same religion as you? I don't know if you know this but morals don't come from The Bible, but from human empathy. "Do unto others as you would wish done unto you". Statistically Christians commit more crime than anyone else in this country! And oh, one more thing.MOST BLACKS ARE CHRISTIAN! How arrogant and narcissistic could you be to think that YOUR religion/way of life is the ideal life for everyone? Im truly scared of people who think like you do

  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 2, 2016
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    Still... no answers, just more blanket statements.

    So:
    How many reformed criminals do you know?

    How many troubled youth do you know who overcame their situations?

    And new ones:
    Are you involved with social workers in Durham? Where did you get this "batting average"?

    Why are you discussing Durham when it's a Raleigh situation?

    Any answers, or just taking one instance where the facts aren't out yet and using it to justify your racism?

  • Nygnog Mcgee Mar 2, 2016
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    TNB, criminal gets what he deserves and it's hand's across America for this total SOB. Where is our country headed...

  • Sonja Yagel Mar 2, 2016
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    Hey Yashi, your batting average in Durham isn't very good.

  • Sonja Yagel Mar 2, 2016
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    Did the love change Denkins? The only one who changes is the one who wants to change. He didn't.

  • Chad Johnson Mar 2, 2016
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    I couldn't be a cop. Spit at my and I'm going across that noggin

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