Durham County

Durham police incident review reports Frank Clark fired at police before officer fatally shot him

Frank Nathaniel Clark, 34, was the man fatally shot by Durham police Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2016.
Frank Nathaniel Clark, 34, was the man fatally shot by Durham police Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2016. Courtesy of family

Frank Clark fired at least two shots at police before an officer fatally shot him on Nov. 22, 2016, the Durham Police Department said Friday, June 9 in the report on its administrative investigation into the incident in the McDougald Terrace public housing community.

The Durham Police Department found that the three officers — Master Officer Charles Barkley, Officer Monte Southerland and Officer Christopher Goss — involved in the shooting violated “no administrative policy or procedure” during the course of events leading to Clark's death.

The administrative investigation included independent interviews of the officers, reviews of physical and forensics evidence, the criminal investigative file compiled by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the conclusions of the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, the department said.

Clark's death was the first of three fatalities resulting from law enforcement-involved shootings in Durham within the past year.

In the other two incidents:

▪  Willard Eugene Scott Jr., 31, was shot and killed by Highway Patrol Trooper Jerimy Mathis on Feb. 12 after failing to stop for a lane violation and driving erratically on Duke Street near Duke Regional Hospital and a brief vehicular pursuit ending with Scott getting out of his car and fleeing on foot.

“During the foot pursuit an armed confrontation ensued,” a State Highway Patrol release stated. Scott died in Duke Regional Hospital.

▪  Kenneth Lee Bailey Jr., 24, was shot and killed by Durham police Feb. 15 at the Durham Housing Authority’s Club Boulevard public housing community. Three officers were trying to arrest Bailey for violating pretrial-release conditions, when police say he pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at the officers.

The report on the investigation of the Clark officer-involved shooting gave this account of the incident:

Five Durham police officers went to the housing community around 12:30 p.m. to make citizen contacts.

A Durham police officer, Barkley, drove down Truman Street and saw Clark acting suspiciously standing near a dumpster and “Officer Barkley radioed the other officers with a description of the man who appeared to be avoiding him.”

Clark turned and walked away immediately after Barkley, wearing a full police uniform, rolled down the window of his unmarked police vehicle, becoming visible to Clark. Barkley lost sight of Clark and radioed other officers to describe the appearance of “the man who appeared to be avoiding him” — Clark.

Southerland saw Clark by McDougald Terrace Building 60 and engaged him in conversation. Officers Goss and Barkley arrived while Southerland and Clark were speaking.

Southerland asked Clark if he was willing to talk to Barkley, the report states, and Clark responded, “'Oh Bark. Yeah, I know Bark.'”

Clark exhibited signs of intense nervousness and his hands were shaking, according to the report.

“Once Officer Barkley asked Mr. Clark why he was so nervous and why he had tried to avoid him earlier, Officer Barkley noted that Mr. Clark then became even more nervous as his entire body began to shake,” the report said.

Clark showed signs of hesitation when informed the officers would perform a “quick pat-down.” Clark, in positioning and readying himself to receive a pat-down, raised his forearms very slowly.

“Mr. Clark only proceeded to inch his arms up as Officer Barkley continued to instruct him to raise them higher,” the report says. “As Officer Barkley reached in towards Mr. Clark’s body to begin the pat-down, Clark punched Officer Barkley in the face and a struggle ensued.”

Southerland could feel Clark repeatedly trying to pull something from his waistband and “after several hard pulls, Mr. Clark fired his gun and, at the same time, Officer Southerland felt sudden and intense pain in his knee.”

The report says that Southerland mistook the knee pain for a gunshot wound.

“While the struggle continued, Mr. Clark pointed his gun at Officer Barkley who drew his weapon in response. Officer Barkley did not fire his weapon fearing he would strike Officer Southerland. Officer Southerland, believing he was shot as the pain in his knee intensified, pushed Mr. Clark away from him.

“As Southerland was falling, he drew his weapon as well. As Clark turned to flee, he pointed his gun back in the direction of Officer Barkley and fired a second shot causing Officer Barkley to begin firing at Mr. Clark. Officer Barkley fired six shots, striking Mr. Clark twice.”

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks