A 24-year-old man was fatally shot by police in Raleigh, North Carolina, during a foot pursuit Monday, authorities say.
The victim has been identified by his mother as Akiel Denkins, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. His mother told reporters her son was shot in the back multiple times. Police have not confirmed where Denkins was shot.
Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said in a statement that the shooting occurred at about noon during a foot pursuit near Bragg and East streets in Southeast Raleigh. She said Denkins was shot and killed by an officer. He was wanted on a felony drug charge, Deck-Brown said.
The officer has been named as 29-year-old Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy, who has been with the department for six years. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say a Gun Was Found Near the Scene But Have Released Few Details About What Led to the Shooting
A firearm was “located in close proximity” to Akiel Denkins, Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said in a statement.
“That weapon, along with all other elements available at the scene will be processed,” Deck-Brown said.
But police have not released details of what led to the shooting and whether the officer knew Denkins was armed.
Denkins’ mother, Rolanda Byrd, told the Raleigh News & Observer that her son’s body was left on the ground for several hours. She said she was told by four or five people that her son was running from police when “he was shot seven times by a white officer with a bald head.”
Byrd told the newspaper, “It’s been over two hours, and my son still behind the building, laying on the ground.”
Luis Rodriguez told the News & Observer he was working at a nearby house when he heard the shooting.
“I heard somebody say, ‘Stop, stop,’ then I heard like, six shots,” Rodriguez said. “Then I heard the screams. Man, it was loud.”
2. Denkins Was the Father of 2 Sons& Celebrated His 24th Birthday Earlier in February
Denkins’ mother says her son was the father of two sons. He turned 24 on February 24.
“Everybody out here knows my son,” Byrd told reporters at the scene. “He’s from this neighborhood, I’m from this neighborhood.”
Byrd told WRAL-TV, “They killed my son for no reason. Everybody out here said he was running, didn’t have a gun, (was) trying to jump a fence, and that officer shot my son seven times. For what? For nothing.”
Chris Jones, the pastor of The Ship of Zion Church, prayed with the family after the shooting, according to the News & Observer.
“No matter what anyone else thinks, they loved him,” Jones prayed. “Lord, you know what happened out here today.”
3. His Mother & Other Community Members Gathered at the Scene of the Shooting
Rolanda Byrd, Akiel Denkins’ mother, and several other members of the community gathered at the scene of the shooting. A community vigil is planned at the scene for tonight, organizers say on social media.
The community members chanted “black lives matter,” after gathering at the scene.
Byrd told reporters, “He was running away. Everybody seen it. They couldn’t catch him so they shot at him seven times. They ain’t going down with this one. They ain’t gonna get away with this one, there’s at least 40 eyewitnesses out here.”
A resident of the neighborhood, Casanova Womack, told WRAL-TV, “The mood around here is more along the lines of people are just frustrated, angry, upset and disappointed. A lot of guys around here are saying what you’ve probably heard before – ‘Why call the cops if the cops won’t even come down here?’ Instead of protect and serve, kill.”
The ACLU of North Carolina issued a statement after the shooting, saying they are “alarmed” by the reports of the shooting and are trying to learn more about what happened.
“What we do know is that far too many people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers across the country, and North Carolina is not immune to that reality,” acting director of the ACLU’s North Carolina chapter Sarah Preston said in the statement. “The public and the victim’s family deserve answers about today’s shooting.”
4. Raleigh’s Police Chief & Mayor Both Called the Shooting ‘Sad’
City officials addressed the media to discuss the shooting a few hours after it happened.
“This is a sad day, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved,” Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said in a statement. “Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in today’s incident. I ask everyone to be patient while the follow-up investigations are conducted to determine the facts about what happened today. Again, we ask for your prayers for the families, for our police department and for our community.”
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was at a City Council meeting and told CBS North Carolina, “This is obviously a sad, terrible situation.”
The chief was scheduled to make a presentation on body cameras to the council Monday afternoon. That was cancelled because of the shooting.
“On a day when the Raleigh City Council was scheduled to discuss officer worn body cameras, this shooting points to the urgent need for North Carolina’s second-largest city’s police department to adopt this crucial technology and an accompanying policy that guarantees it will be used to promote officer accountability and transparency,” ACLU of North Carolina acting Executive Director Sarah Preston said in a statement.
5. The Shooting Will Be Investigated by the State & Raleigh Police Internal Affairs
The criminal investigation into the shooting will be led by the State Bureau of Investigation, Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said in a statement. Its findings will be presented to the Wake County District Attorney, Deck-Brown said.
The Raleigh Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit will conduct an administrative investigation focusing on departmental policy matters, she said.
“Obviously, the multiple follow-up investigations that are customary in a situation such as this are still in their early stages. As always, these investigations will be conducted thoroughly and will follow the available facts and the evidence wherever they lead,” Deck-Brown said. “Additional information about the incident will be provided as promptly as possible, and I will provide a written report outlining the initial findings to the city manager within five working days.”