Local News

Vigil, vandalism mark two months since teen's death in police custody

Posted January 19, 2014
Updated January 20, 2014

— 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."


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  • MitziGaynor Jan 21, 2014

    Trying to make another Treyvon case. Is Durham that desperate?

    1) 17 year old was stealing
    2) 17 year old involved in drugs
    3) 17 year old already in trouble before
    4) 17 year OLD HAD AN ILLEGAL GUN!
    5) 17 year old SHOOTS HIMSELF.

    Cop errored in his search. Teen CHOSE to end his life not the cop. Teen could have just as easily ditched the gun in the car, he chose to end his life.

    People, go home! Take care of your family and your neighborhood.

  • Paladin2 Jan 21, 2014

    The vigils should be stopped by the family unless they want the gangs to continue to take over the vigils.

  • Wilson Andrew Craig, III Jan 20, 2014

    Violence is not a good response to violence. You diminish your argument when you resort to violence.

  • bluecanary Jan 20, 2014

    What "justice" are they hoping to find? I get it, it's hard to understand when someone you love commits suicide. But repeated acts of violence and vandalism aren't doing anything but making them look like criminals themselves. I'm sorry for this kid's family, but they need to move on in some kind of constructive way instead of continuing to hold "peaceful" vigils that degenerate into violence.

  • busyb97 Jan 20, 2014

    This just shows they refuse to accept whatever investigation report given to them, until they have someone to blame other than the one actually responsible.

    I cannot imagine their pain, the questions of "what if" they are asking.....but the DPD was not at fault. Yes...had he found the gun, he would be alive. For that mistake, the officer should be dealt with. But the kid pulled that trigger.....he had to WORK t getting that gun to where he could do that. He made the choice. You can't put that on DPD.

    Whether the DPD, SBI, or even the feds investigate, it wont change that. Stop trying to cause more problems.

  • dejr8875 Jan 20, 2014

    Vandalism aside....it was unfortunate where it took place, but what makes his suicide any different than the two teens who committed suicide in Wayne County?

  • robertgiles1950 Jan 20, 2014

    Why is Durham not enforcing the law when it comes to MASKS, Wearing masks in public is illegal those wearing them should have their mask confiscated or be arrested.

  • mafiamic Jan 20, 2014

    The Boy shot himself,there is no justice to be .It has happened and it is over get on with your lives especially you who want to cause trouble at a peaceful event,if you are representing the boy and acting like you are acting then that gives a good idea on how the boy was?.

  • PDMARTIN Jan 20, 2014

    Sounds like the homeboys are causing the vandalism. I am tired of not only these people but all over this country that make it a point to put the blame on any and everyone but their own son or daughter, mother, father cousin, aunt, uncle, you name it. It has become a blame game and these people are no different.

    This was a troubled boy from a troubled home and he got mixed up with the wrong people. Of course the picture they choose to put up makes people think he was an angel. Far from it. I would use rubber bullets and tear gas the next time they start up.

  • claire7676 Jan 20, 2014

    This behavior by these protestors is DISGUSTING. I am so sick & tired of hearing about this poor family whose response has been criminal. They ALL need to be locked up.