Local News

Conflicting stories arise after Durham man's shooting death

Posted August 5, 2013 4:08 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2013 10:36 a.m. EDT

— Residents of Durham's Old East and Walltown neighborhoods issued a public statement Monday questioning the actions of a police officer who shot a man a little more than a week ago.

Officer R.S. Mbuthia was put on administrative leave with pay after he fired the shot that killed Jose Ocampo. The leave is standard procedure, and he will not be back on patrol until the State Bureau of Investigation completes its look into the shooting.

The official story is that police were investigating a report of a stabbing in the 700 block of Park Avenue when Ocampo approached, bleeding and carrying a knife, and refused to surrender his weapon.

Ocampo's family attorney, Scott Holmes, said an independent investigation found three eyewitnesses who said Ocampo was waiting in front of his home to talk to officers about an altercation. When the officers saw a knife in his back pocket, they drew their guns and ordered him to throw it down. Ocampo was shot when he tried to hand over the knife, handle first, Holmes said. 

Jennifer Spencer, who lived next door to Ocampo, said it's not the first altercation in the neighborhood.

"I think in that particular incident the officer walked into an already particularly bad situation," Spencer said. 

Representatives of a group called Communities in Partnership questioned the police account of events and said that authorities did not bother to talk to them. They issued a statement Monday, saying, "No one who witnessed the shooting finds the chief’s public account of the events credible."

"Lots of people witnessed it, even children, and police didn’t take the opportunity to see how the community viewed it and what the community witnessed,"  said Aliyah Abdur-Rahman.

Spencer is not so sure. She was inside her house at the time of the shooting and says not many people were around.

"It seemed like all of the sudden nobody knew anything, and now all of the sudden everyone knows everything," she said.