Dozens of N.C. Central University students walked out class Monday as part of a protest to push for answers about a 23-year-old senior who was fatally shot by a security guard at an off-campus housing complex last month.
“The thing I am trying to get the university to focus on is the fact that students don’t feel comfortable, students don’t feel safe, students don’t feel like they are truly supported,” said Jamielyn Riggin, a junior who is working on her second degree at the school and organizer of the walk-out and gathering.
DeAndre Marquise Ballard was shot around 10:15 p.m. Sept. 17 by a security guard at Campus Crossings, where he lived.
Shaniya Hunter was among the students who walked out of class at 10:25 a.m. Monday and made their way to a section next to the school’s library. Hunter didn’t know Ballard, she said, but went to high school with his sister.
“I just felt like it was right to support (Ballard) because he was doing good,” said Hunter, an 18-year-old freshman. “It wasn’t like he was a troubled person.”
Ballard’s life was taken by someone who was supposed to protect him, Hunter said.
“My concerns are just why does security feel like they have to take other people’s lives into their own hands,” she said. “We are supposed to feel safe around them.”
Representatives of NCCU and Campus Crossings didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments following the protest.
It took police three days to identify Ballard because he didn’t have identification on him, a police spokeswoman has said.
Friends said Ballard’s roommates didn’t report him missing until three days later because he was involved in many activities that kept him busy.
On Sept. 21, NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye said in a statement that Ballard died due to an incident that is under investigation by police.
On Sept. 24, details emerged about Ballard’s death, including that he was shot by a N.C. Detective Agency security guard contracted by Campus Crossings. A representative of the agency has said the security guard shot Ballard in self-defense.
That information concerned family and friends because, they said, it didn’t sound like something Ballard would do.
He was afraid of guns, wasn’t violent, respected authority and had never been in significant trouble, Ballard’s mother, Ernisha Ballard, and others said.
Police told Ernisha Ballard that the security guard said her son was trying to get into cars, then got into the security guard’s car and started trying to fight the guard, she said. He tried to get the guard’s gun, which was when he was shot, Ernisha Ballard said she was told by police.
Concerns about NCCU statement
On Sept. 27, NCCU released a follow-up statement regarding Ballard.
“The university is not associated with and does not have any contractual agreement with Campus Crossings, an independently-owned residential apartment complex,” the statement said. “The NCCU police department officers have no jurisdiction or connection with the Campus Crossings apartment complex nor with the security officer involved in the incident. NCCU does not endorse or recommend any specific rental property for students.”
Davanta Parker, a 21-year-old senior and president of the Student Government Association, said the university took steps to support Ballard’s family, but the school didn’t have enough information to take any action.
Parker said the school’s second statement stressing it isn’t affiliated with Campus Crossings created some concerns among students.
“I feel like we know that our students are there, and there should be some sort of empathy toward that situation,” he said.
Amaiya Gaddie, 19, a sophomore, said her 23-year-old brother Demario Lucas was shot and killed at Campus Crossings in 2013 at a homecoming game after-party. Gaddie said she has had concerns about the security at the complex for years, including how easy it is for anyone to get on the property.
Gaddie, who lives on campus, said she is also concerned about what kind of training the security guards receive.
Gaddie said she didn’t understand why Ballard, who wasn’t wearing shoes and didn’t have a weapon, ended up getting shot.
“If feel like if he didn’t have no weapon or he wasn’t really a threat to Campus Crossings, then the first instinct shouldn’t have been to shoot him,” she said.
Who oversees security guards?
Concerns about the N.C. Detective Agency have been raised at least three times, according to meeting minutes from the Private Protective Services Board, a state agency that oversees licensing, education and training requirements for security guards and firms.
Kevin Ladd, a vice president at the agency, declined to comment on the grievances, which he described as minor. He said the company will not comment further about the shooting because there is an active police investigation.
In 2010, Roger Ladd, who lists his title as CEO of the N.C. Detective Agency on his LinkedIn profile, permanently surrendered his unarmed guard trainer certification for providing false information regarding guard training certificates, according to the Private Protection Services Board’s minutes.
The minutes state that he allowed guards to carry firearms without meeting the proper qualifications, and he failed to properly train unarmed guards.
The board said that Ladd had to retrain all the employees.
In 2011, an employee of the agency was issued a letter of warning for making false statements in connection with a license, registration or renewal, according to the minutes.
In 2012, Roger Ladd was accused of failing to properly register armed guards and of failing to register and renew applications for armed and unarmed guards, according to the minutes.
The board ordered Ladd to pay $2,631.60
Training requirements for armed security guards include completing 16 hours of unarmed guard training and then 20 hours of armed training.
Following a guard-involved shooting, a state investigator will present information to the Private Protection Services board to review whether any actions violate procedures or state law, said Brian Jones, director of the state agency.
Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said Monday the shooting is still under investigation as officials await the autopsy, toxicology and gunshot residue reports.
In general, autopsy and toxicology reports are made public, but not evidence about gunshot residue, unless it is part of a court hearing or trial.
If the guard isn’t charged, it’s not clear what additional information may be made public.
Bonfield said he wasn’t sure how evidence would be made public, but he thinks all reports would be released unless the district attorney objects.
District Attorney Roger Echols couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
The shooting at Campus Crossings involved a private security guard, which has no affiliation to Durham police.
If an officer was involved, however, city and county officials have followed a general process to share information about such incidents.
In general, after an officer-involved shooting within Durham, the city releases a report within five days of the incident outlining some initial information about what happened.
After a State Bureau of Investigation report is completed , the investigation information is shared with the district attorney.
Following recent police shootings, Echols has released a report, which included evidence, witness and officer statements, about why he didn’t seek to charge the officers.