Durham (NC) Police have been involved in three shooting deaths recently, with the most recent one, the in-custody death of 17-year-old in the back of a squad car, being the most recent.
Jesus Huerta was picked up on a minor charge and was being transported for booking when it appears that he shot himself in the head:
Police Chief Jose Lopez released a statement Friday morning defending the Durham Police Department’s decision to release few details in the Tuesday morning death of a teenager in police custody.
Officer Samuel Duncan was transporting Jesus Huerta, 17, to police headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street to pick up a warrant charging the teen with second-degree trespassing when the teen died.
Huerta’s family said investigators told them that he suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Lopez said Tuesday that, “based on the preliminary investigation, it does not appear that any Durham police officer fired a weapon during this incident.”
This suggests multiple failures on the part of the officer. One does not need to be a physiologist to know that it would be exceedingly difficult for someone to shoot themselves in the head with his hands properly cuffed behind his back, especially if they have been properly searched and relieved of any weapons before being placed in the car.
Chief Lopez’s tenure in Durham has been a controversial one. Earlier this year there were calls for his dismissal after Lopez allegedly asserted that a wounded public defender “deserved” to be shot, for which he soon apologized. Lopez was cleared of charges of nepotism at roughly the same time.