Authorities: Driver killed himself after Durham County traffic stop
Posted December 16, 2019 3:28 p.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2019 2:52 p.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — An 18-year-old who died after a Monday traffic stop apparently killed himself, authorities said.
J’Mauri J. Bumpass, who graduated last winter from Hillside High School, was stopped near the intersection of Old Oxford Highway and Meriwether Drive after deputies noticed the license plate on his vehicle was for another vehicle, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said.
"They initiated a stop to attempt to stop the vehicle and identify the driver and get more information on the vehicle and on the fictitious tag," Birkhead said.
Bumpass apparently complied with the stop, pulling over and stopping. However, for reasons not yet understood, he randomly started driving again.
Birkhead said it didn't seem like Bumpass was “taking off." He said there was some movement inside the vehicle that caused it to move forward. It moved around 50 feet or so "before coming to rest on a power pole."
Deputies called EMS, and Bumpass was taken to Duke University Medical Center, where he died.
Preliminary results of an autopsy put the cause of death as a "close-range gunshot wound, consistent with suicide," authorities said.
Birkhead said he doesn't believe there was any wrongdoing on the part of the deputy conducting the traffic stop.
"This was not a chase," he said. "I have zero tolerance for that."
The sheriff's office called the loss of life "tragic" and offered condolences to Bumpass' family.
"Anytime a life is lost, particularly someone who is so young, at age 18, it’s just difficult for us to piece together what happened," Birkhead said.
Jermaine Edmonds, who lives near the crash site, said, "I think it’s sad for anyone to lose a child at such a young age, because his life had just begun and he hasn’t really had a chance to live at 18. I don’t think a traffic stop warrants him to lose his life for a fictitious license plate. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. I hope they can find time to grieve and to live his life for him. Because he can’t live it no more."
The case remains under investigation.