Police: Officer who shot, killed drug suspect is 29-year-old senior officer
Posted February 29, 2016 1:30 p.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2016 11:19 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh police officer killed a drug suspect fleeing arrest Monday afternoon, Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said.
Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy was chasing a man on foot who was wanted on a felony drug charge and ended up shooting him, Deck-Brown said. The shooting occurred shortly after noon near the intersection of Bragg and East streets.
Twiddy, 29, who is white, has been employed by the Raleigh Police Department since 2009 and is assigned to the Field Operations Division. He has been placed on administrative leave, pending the completion of an investigation.
A gun was found "in close proximity to" the dead man, the chief said. Police have not said whether the gun belonged to the man or whether he threatened Twiddy.
Police haven't released the name of the shooting victim, but Rolanda Byrd told WRAL News that it was her 24-year-old son, Akiel Denkins, who had an outstanding warrant.
"They killed my son for no reason," a distraught Byrd said. "Everybody out here said he was running, didn't have a gun, (was) trying to jump a fence, and that officer shot my son seven times. For what? For nothing."
Raleigh police said that positive identification of the deceased man was not expected to be completed until Tuesday.
Denkins, who was black, had been convicted three times on drug offenses, according to the state Department of Public Safety. There were pending charges against him from last fall of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and probation violations.
A woman who asked not to be identified said the foot chase started when a man took off as he was approached by a police officer. The man ignored the officer's demands to stop, the woman said, and chase went over one fence and turned deadly after a second fence.
"When they got to the tall fence, the boy jumped the tall fence, but the police couldn't," the woman said. "When the police went to jump over the tall fence, he fell. When he fell, he just started shooting his gun."
Tension high in neighborhood
Denkins was well-known in the community. He had two sons, ages 3 and 2, was working on his GED through the Neighbor to Neighbor program and hoped to become a carpenter.
"He could have been my son. I treated him like my son. I've fed him at my church before. Now, he's lying back there dead," said Rev. Chris Jones, pastor of Ship of Zion Church, which is about four blocks from the shooting scene.
Crowds of people milled about amid the dozen or so police cruisers that blocked off the neighborhood as investigators spent much of the afternoon collecting evidence and witness statements from the shooting scene.
"The mood around here is more along the lines of people are just frustrated, angry, upset and disappointed," said Casanova Womack, who lives in the neighborhood. "A lot of guys around here are saying what you've probably heard before – "Why call the cops if the cops won't even come down?' and 'Instead of protect and serve, kill.'"
Jones was among several clergy members who tried to quell anger in the crowd, but he said he is disheartened by the shooting.
"It's going to damage the relationship with police," Jones said. "Even I have to fear. Even me, because of my color, now I've got to fear, when before I had a great relationship with officers."
Jones said that Denkins did not have to die.
"If he ran from you today, you could have arrested him tomorrow. Why did you have to kill him today," he said.
Monday night, hundreds gathered in the streets not far from where Denkins was killed.
"He's gone. Why? Because of the color of his skin," said Minister Brenda Ginger.
There were tears, signs, and candles as people held a vigil before marching through the streets, but there was also growing outrage in the crowd.
"We are sick and tired of being sick and tired," said Ginger."It is time for change. It is time for all of us to get together and say no to the injustice."
While the shooting brought the crowd together, some of the emotion felt Monday night came from a deeper place and had been building for some time.
"They want to lock you up as a modern-day slave," said community leader Diana Powell. "This is a very defining moment."
The State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to review the shooting. Deck-Brown said the Raleigh Police Department's Internal Affairs unit will investigate whether any departmental policies were violated.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman asked people to be patient during the investigation.
"We certainly understand that people have a right to come out and have their voices to be heard," Freeman said. "These investigations take some time, and in order for a proper investigation to be done, we do need the public's cooperation and patience."
The shooting was the first involving a Raleigh police officer in more than a year. The North Carolina NAACP issued a statement Monday night calling for "a full and thorough investigation to be conducted, no matter where it leads."
Marcel Leroy Jordan was shot once in the torso on Dec. 17, 2014, at Family Preservation Services of North Carolina on Barrett Drive after he refused to drop a pair of scissors as he moved toward two officers, police said. A stun gun was initially used but was ineffective, police said. No charges were filed against the officer.
Body camera discussion delayed
Deck-Brown was supposed to make a presentation to the Raleigh City Council on Monday about her officers using body cameras, but the item was removed from the council agenda when the chief had to go to the shooting scene.
"It was really to update us on all the information our police department has been working hard to gather, from expectations to how we would roll out this program," Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said.
"I don’t know if it would have made a difference," McFarlane said of body cameras and Monday's shooting. "The primary thing is we don’t want this situation to happen in the first place, cameras or not."
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said the shooting is the latest evidence that police body cameras are needed.
"Far too many people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers across the country, and North Carolina is not immune to that reality," Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement. "On a day when the Raleigh City Council was scheduled to discuss officer-worn body cameras, this shooting points to the urgent need for North Carolina’s second-largest city’s police department to adopt this crucial technology and an accompanying policy that guarantees it will be used to promote officer accountability and transparency."