Durham County

Mother of man shot by Durham police questions city’s report of events

“Once he was shot he went down. Why wasn't that enough?” Louise Pratt, left, asks of the fatal shooting of her son Kenneth Lee Bailey Jr. by Durham police Feb. 15, 2017. Pratt, with Bailey's aunt Sharon Chapman, right, says she has had no contact with the Police Department since the shooting.
“Once he was shot he went down. Why wasn't that enough?” Louise Pratt, left, asks of the fatal shooting of her son Kenneth Lee Bailey Jr. by Durham police Feb. 15, 2017. Pratt, with Bailey's aunt Sharon Chapman, right, says she has had no contact with the Police Department since the shooting. mschultz@newsobserver.com

The mother of a man fatally shot by Durham police disputes the city’s report and says her son pleaded for his life after the first of three shots that killed him.

“Once he was shot he went down,” Louise Pratt said Tuesday. “Why wasn’t that enough?”

Pratt met with reporters to respond to the city’s official report outlining what the Police Department says happened Feb. 15 after three members of the Selective Enforcement Team pulled up to a house on Glenbrook Drive in the Club Boulevard or “Bluefield” public housing community, where her son, Kenneth Lee Bailey Jr., was visiting cousins.

Bailey, 24, was awaiting trial on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony conspiracy and was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when Officers Thomas M. Greathouse and Alan G. D'Meza and Cpl. John E. Lloyd came to arrest him for violating his pre-trial curfew after he didn't come home the night before.

The Police Department’s report says Bailey ran outside a side door and across the street, with police in pursuit. Bailey pulled a gun at the officers, who then shot him, it says.

A witness heard officers tell Bailey to “drop his weapon several times” before they fired their guns, according to the report. Another witness reported seeing Bailey “throw a black gun back toward the street,” it says.

The report does not say Bailey pointed a gun at police, as the department’s original press release about the incident did. But spokesman Wil Glenn has said the press release was correct.

That’s where the report ends, but Pratt, Bailey’s aunt Sharon Chapman, and the family’s supporters community organizer Nia Wilson of Spirit House; writer and preacher Jonathan Wilson-Hartgove, the Rev. Robert Daniels of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church and Diane Standaert of the Durham NAACP said many questions remain.

“No one we have talked to in the community where he was killed believes justice was done or (that) justice will be done,” Wilson-Hartgrove said.

According to those they spoke with, the officers who “stormed” the house never issued any orders to Bailey, and community members heard Bailey plead for his life in between shots, saying he was down. Two more shots were then fired, they said.

Pratt said her son was shot three times: in the calf and twice between the abdomen and neck. She and Wilson dispute that Bailey pointed a gun at police and wants to know why officers fired on him after a 20-second chase.

“He would have had to stop, turn around and point a gun,” Wilson said. “None of those shots were to the front of him.”

Wilson and the others said police reacted with excessive force to someone who was being picked up for violating curfew. They asked why police didn’t call family members to ask them to bring Bailey in.

There have been two fatal police shootings in Durham and a fatal shooting by a state trooper in Durham County since last November.

Bailey’s aunt Sharon Chapman wiped away tears as she and Pratt described a young man they said was a loving son, brother, nephew and father to two boys. Bailey wanted to be a barber, his mother said, “because he liked to look neat.”

“We’re not criminals, we’re not animals, and we deserve to be treated better than this,” Chapman said. “We will have to live with this, like he was a four-legged animal somebody was out hunting.”

The three officers remain on administrative leave with pay pending the department’s internal and State Bureau of Investigation reviews, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said.

“This case is still under investigation so we will not comment on the specifics at this time,” she said by email Tuesday.

Schultz: 919-829-8950

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