Teen’s family wants feds to investigate Durham PD
The family of Jesus Huerta has partnered with an organization called Presente.org to demand a federal investigation of the Durham Police Department.
On Tuesday morning, Erica Scott Pacheco, a representative of Presente.org, will deliver a petition with 15,000 signatures gathered within the past week from the Latino community-oriented website to the Raleigh office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The petition calls for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Police Department in the wake of the death of Huerta, 17, in the back of a patrol car at police headquarters downtown.
“It is time for the DOJ to step in,” Pacheco said Monday. “Jesus Huerta is the third person of color to die in a Durham PD-related incident since July, and the department has long faced allegations of excessive force against people of color and racial profiling in traffic stops, in addition to a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation of Chief (Jose) Lopez.”
Huerta died last month after a loud noise reportedly startled Officer Samuel Duncan, prompting him to jump out of the moving car in the police department parking lot. The Riverside High student was then found fatally wounded in the back seat.
It remains unclear how Huerta died or whether he was properly searched and cuffed before Duncan put him in the rear of the car. The state medical examiner’s office still has not released a report on Huerta’s death.
Lopez has said that however Huerta died, it wasn’t because of a gun fired by a police officer.
No outcome has been reported of any internal investigation into the incident and there’s been no word of progress in the State Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry into the case.
Presente.org also was motivated by the shooting deaths of Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo and Derek Deandre Walker, who died during police confrontations this summer.
Those cases also remain under investigation by the SBI. Once the SBI compiles its findings, they’re sent to the local district attorney’s office for a decision on whether the police officers should face charges.
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