Vigil, vandalism mark two months since teen's death in police custody
Posted January 19
Updated January 20
Durham, N.C. — Durham authorities arrested six people Sunday evening during a march that ended in vandalism as hundreds of other people gathered at a prayer vigil for a teenager who shot himself while in police custody.
As mourners at Immaculate Conception Church – on West Chapel Hill Street – remembered 17-year-old Jesus Huerta, police said about 120 people – many wearing masks and carrying drums – marched from the church to the Durham Police Department's downtown substation about a mile away, where some in the crowd threw rocks at the substation, shattering several windows and damaging five police cars.
The back window of at least one cruiser was also shattered, and someone poured ketchup on the cars and spray-painted the word "pig" on at least two vehicles.
As of Sunday evening, authorities had arrested four adults and two juveniles on charges of unauthorized entry and assembly in a city-owned parking facility and resist, delay and obstruct.
No arrests had been made for the vandalism, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said in a statement.
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez, who was at Sunday night's vigil, had no comment on the vandalism.
On Nov. 19, Officer Samuel Duncan was taking Huerta to be booked on an outstanding trespassing charge, when according to an autopsy report, the teen shot himself in the face while handcuffed in the back of Duncan's patrol car.
A preliminary internal police report concluded that Duncan missed a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun during a search of Huerta at the time of his arrest.
The teen's death has prompted outrage in the Durham community, and Sunday's arrests were not the first.
A month ago, what was supposed to be a peaceful march for Huerta turned into a confrontation between demonstrators and police, who deployed tear gas on the crowd after they say protesters threw rocks and bottles at officers and set off smoke bombs.
Family members, who have called for a federal investigation into the Durham Police Department, say they plan to hold a march every month "until justice is served."