Local News

Police: Raleigh officer struggled with man over gun before fatal shooting

Posted March 3, 2016 1:08 p.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2016 10:46 p.m. EST

— A 24-year-old man who was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer on Monday was shot four times, according to preliminary autopsy results released Thursday.

A separate report from the Raleigh Police Department said that Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy and Akiel Denkins were struggling and that Denkins was reaching for a gun when he was shot.

Sources told WRAL News that Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown met with Denkins' mother, Rolanda Byrd, before the report was released.

Police have described Denkins as a drug suspect who was fleeing arrest when he was shot behind a home at 1117 S. East St., near the intersection of Bragg and East streets.

Denkins suffered four gunshot wounds, including one to his right chest, with injuries to his lungs and heart, and one each in the left forearm, right upper arm and right shoulder, according to preliminary results.

"These preliminary results provided by the North Carolina State Medical Examiner of the wounds sustained by Mr. Denkins are one piece of information in the investigation," Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said in a statement. "The State Bureau of Investigation continues to gather information, and evidence has been submitted to the North Carolina State Crime Lab for forensic analysis. A thorough investigation takes time, and I continue to urge the community for its patience as we continue."

The report released Thursday evening by the Raleigh Police Department detailed the moments before Twiddy fired his gun.

According to the report, Twiddy, who is white, first observed Denkins, who is black, on Bragg Street, near Mangum Street. Twiddy, who was in uniform, parked his patrol car and approached Denkins, who turned and begun to walk away.

When Twiddy told Denkins to stop, he began to run west on Bragg Street before turning onto South East Street, with Twiddy chasing him on foot, the report states. Denkins then ran between two homes, and Twiddy slipped on gravel as he attempted to follow.

As Twiddy was getting up to continue the pursuit, he saw Denkins hop a fence and run toward a home at 1117 South East St. Twiddy followed, jumped the fence and continued the chase.

As he came around the corner of the house, Twiddy saw Denkins attempting to climb a second fence. Denkins then stopped and turned toward Twiddy, according to the report.

Twiddy ran and grabbed Denkins in an effort to take him into custody. While the two struggled, Twiddy saw Denkins start to pull a handgun from the front of his waistband and move it toward Twiddy, the report states.

During the struggle, Twiddy drew his weapon and fired multiple shots as Denkins continued to move his gun in his direction, the report states. After the first shots were fired, Twiddy felt Denkins' hand or arm make contact with his gun, and fearing that Denkins was going to shoot him or take his gun, he fired additional shots.

Denkins collapsed and dropped his gun in the process. Twiddy used his radio to call for assistance.

The SBI was immediately notified of the officer-involved shooting, and the area was secured until investigators arrived.

A gun found at the scene, which was in Denkins' possession during the encounter, was reported stolen on Jan. 31, according to the report.

Twiddy's patrol car was equipped with a video recorder, but since the incident took place away from the car, and Twiddy did not have a reason to activate his blue lights, which trigger the camera, there is no dash cam video, the report said.

According to the report, Twiddy suffered minor abrasions during the encounter.

Twiddy has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

Community seeks answers in Denkins' death

On Thursday morning, a group gathered for a prayer vigil at the Vision Church in Raleigh. Local pastors say it is important for people to have a place to voice their concerns.

"This is a very sensitive time, and we encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of these opportunities," said William Cooper, the minister of the Upper Room Church. "We don't want you to just stay home and talk about it but actually to come out and be with us as we mourn together and as we search for the truth together."

Bishop Patrick Wooden of the Upper Room Church said the release of the autopsy report will go a long way toward giving people the answers they have been looking for.

"We want the autopsy report, and we want a transparent investigation," he said. "We don't want to rush to judgment, but the family and the neighborhood and all of the citizens need something. They need to hear something."

About 50 people attended a meeting Thursday evening at the Bible Way Temple, in Raleigh, including local pastors and the attorneys representing the NAACP and Denkins' family.

The family's attorney said she wants to speak with anyone who was at the scene the day of the shooting.

A funeral is scheduled for Denkins on Friday at 1 p.m. at the Bible Way Temple.