District attorney holds line on Huerta case

May. 30, 2014 @ 06:53 PM

The Durham district attorney’s decision not to pursue charges against a police officer in the death of Jesus Huerta will stand.

Leon Stanback reaffirmed that choice on Friday after the State Bureau of Investigation looked into purported evidence from an anonymous letter and phone call.

Alex Charns, an attorney for the family of the Riverside High School student who died in November in the back of Officer Samuel Duncan’s patrol car, provided that information to investigators.

When they tracked down the source of the information, however, he admitted that he had reported rumor and conjecture with no factual basis.

Charns had no comment about Stanback’s decision except: “The Huerta family thanks the SBI and the D.A. for following up on the area of inquiry that was identified. I offer my thanks, as well.”

Huerta’s death resulted in protests, including one in downtown Durham in December that saw police officers releasing tear gas in the crowd.

Detractors blamed the Police Department for his death. Chief Jose Lopez Sr. said that Huerta killed himself -- either accidentally or in a suicidal act -- using a gun that Duncan missed during a cursory search while picking up the youth on a warrant.

An autopsy report released in January indicated that Huerta was shot through the mouth and that the bullet passed through the right front of his jacket on an upward trajectory.

Lopez didn’t offer any comment Friday about the resolution of the case. Kammie Michael, the department’s spokeswoman, said an internal investigation should be completed soon.

Duncan remains on administrative duty with pay.

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