Akiel Denkins, a 24-year-old black male was shot and killed Monday by a police officer in Raleigh, NC, apparently while running from the police. There is some controversy over whether the victim was unarmed.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said that Denkins was killed while fleeing when police tried to arrest him on a felony drug charge.
The case is being investigated by the SBI which will review the shooting and RPD’s Internal Affairs Unit to determine if the officer violated police policy, said Deck-Brown. The initial findings will be released within five working days.
In her statement from 4 PM Monday she said that a gun was found in close proximity to the victim. It remains unclear whether it belonged to the victim or not.
“They killed my son for no reason,” Rolonda Byrd told local newspaper WRAL after identifying her son whose name has not been formally released by police. “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,” she said. “My son didn’t have no gun on him. My son wasn’t threatening that officer.”
Denkins had three past drug-related convictions and was currently on probation. His mother also said he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
In WRAL’s report:
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.”
Monday the RPD released a statement identifying the shooting officer as Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy, a 29-year-old who had been with the force since 2009. He has been placed on administrative duty for the duration of the investigation.
Emotions were high Monday night as hundreds of people gathered at a candlelit vigil in memory of the victim. Community relations with the police had clearly been damaged and the attitude was that of fear and anger. Denkins’ death was the first use of lethal force by the RPD since 2014.
“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.
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.
Read more at According to the ACLU, the Raleigh City Council was planning to discuss police adopting officer-worn body camera Monday but after the shooting they removed this item from the agenda.
“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,” acting Executive Director Sarah Preston said in a statement.
She said the ACLU expressed its deepest condolences to Denkins’ family and was trying to learn more about what happened.
“What we do know is that 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.”
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP will hold a press conference this morning to address the community’s concerns over Denkins’ killing.