Durham, NC teen apparently shoots himself in police car. Family holds cops responsible for failing to search him properly.

This is one of the most bizarre cases of a suspect dying in police custody that I’ve heard of in a while.

Officer Samuel Duncan was transporting Jesus Huerta to police headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street shortly before 3 a.m. to pick up a warrant charging the teen with second-degree trespassing.

When the officer got to the parking lot, he heard a loud noise in the car and jumped from the vehicle, police said.

The patrol car rolled into a van and came to rest with Huerta in the back seat.

“Based on the preliminary investigation, it does not appear that any Durham police officer fired a weapon during this incident,” Police Chief Jose Lopez told reporters in a statement Tuesday morning.

Lopez declined to take questions and did not say what investigators think the loud noise might have been.


Based on the detail that the officer’s initial response was to bail out of the slow-moving vehicle, it sounds like he thought Huerta might have been shooting at him. 

Huerta’s sister and family also seem to be under the assumption that Huerta shot himself, and seem to hold the police responsible for an incompetent search before he was placed in the cop car. While that complaint isn’t without merit if he did manage to get a gun into the car, shouldn’t they be more concerned that the 17-year-old might have had a gun in the first place?

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