State News

Durham Police Investigate Complaint of Fractured Skull

Posted December 15, 2006 2:02 a.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2006 5:08 p.m. EST

— The Durham Police Department is investigating allegations that one of its officers fractured a teenager's skull with a flashlight while trying to break up a fight.

Capricia Crennell's family said the 15-year-old had five hours of surgery last weekend to repair her skull, which the officer fractured by hitting her with a flashlight.

"Everyone I've talked to seems to feel that it was excessive force," said Robert Perry, an attorney representing Crennell's family.

Police policy allows officers to use force, but considers a flashlight an impact weapon that is a last resort before drawing a firearm.

"If a police officer breaks up a fight between two young females, where neither child had any object in their hand, certainly he should be able to break that fight up without injuring those young girls," Perry said.

The officer, C.S. Barkley, was working off-duty last Friday at Jordan High School as a security officer when Crennell and 17-year-old student started fighting. The 17-year-old was arrested and charged in the fight, but Crennell was not charged.

Police department officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Durham school officials said they are conducting their own investigation of the incident.

Barkley, a nine-year veteran of the Durham Police Department, is a member of the department's Special Operations unit.